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Deep Creek Lake
Popo Agie Wilderness, WY
Most lakes containing the Wind Rivers’ fabled, elusive golden trout are so remote, they demand a long journey—but not Deep Creek, on the Winds’ east side. A 12-mile hike leads to this alpine cirque where rock monoliths soar skyward and the prized fish grow to 14 inches and beyond. To hook into gold (Wyoming fishing license required), start your hike at Sheep Bridge trailhead and head north on the Middle Fork Trail along the Popo Agie’s gurgling current, then take the Pinto Park Trail west to the Deep Creek Cutoff Trail. Pitch your tent atop the tundra grasses beside lower Deep Creek Lake, within sight of 13,197-foot Wind River Peak, then head lakeside in time for the goldens’ evening feeding (they eat at dawn and dusk in midsummer). Sink a scud or streamer into the depths (where goldens tend to lurk), or float a beetle on the surface (another reliable strategy). Alas, paradise must end, but the way out is just as nice: Your 13-mile return tracks south on the Ice Lakes Trail, which visits Ice, Jug, and Boot Lakes, before descending via Stough Creek Lakes Trail. Trailhead 20 miles southwest of Lander; 42.699739, -108.931826 Best season Trout are hungriest in fall; weather is best in July and Aug. Permit None Contact (307) 332-5460; fs.usda.gov/shoshone