Trailhead Conditions Update
Big Sandy road is still posted as closed about 4 miles from the top as of Saturday. It will be another couple of weeks before the campground and trailhead are accessible. There still is a lot of snow in the Wind River Mountains and Bridger Wilderness high country.
Elkhart Park, Big Sandy, Scab Creek
by Dawn Ballou
June 12, 2005
Are the trailheads open to get up to the Continental Divide Trail yet? We’re getting that question now from folks who live in lower elevations and want to come hiking. Some can't believe we still have snow when they've been enjoying summer for months now. It’s still just barely spring here in our Green River Valley. Our leaves just came on trees and bushes two weeks ago! There still is a lot of snow in the high Wind River Mountains along the Continental Divide and the high passes aren't open yet. For those who want to get out hiking, there is plenty of great hiking in many places in the valley and at elevations below 9,000 feet.
Gannett Peak, Jackass Pass, Cirque of the Towers and the high trails in the Wind River Mountains all still have snow. The high-elevation trailheads (Elkhart Park and Big Sandy at 9000+ feet) are still getting rounds of new snow, but should open up for access in the next couple of weeks. When we get several days of warm weather, the snow melts and trails are dry. We still get storms coming through that can drop 5 inches of new snow on the high trailheads, so it still is marginal on access conditions for those high-elevation trailheads, dry one day, snow the next.
Rock climbers can do bouldering and low-elevation technical climbing now for pretty much anything below 9,000 feet, but Gannett Peak and Cirque of the Towers are still weeks away from being freed up from snow.
We have been having a wet spring, and the rainstorms that come through keep dropping new snow on the trailheads and more in the mountains. The snowline is around 10,000 feet, but drops to 9,000 feet with the passing storms. Watch the White Pine webcams for daily conditions for the 9,000 foot elevation level.
At our high elevation, spring typically comes to the valley in late May and June and the high country doesn’t really open up until July/August. If you are from California, this may seem late to still have snow, but it's about right for us.
Green River Lakes trailhead, at the northern end of the Wind River Mountains, has been open for a couple of weeks now. You’ll run into snow again with elevation gain on the highline trails, but the lower trails are dry and offer plenty of spectacular hiking opportunities. Just a reminder that the Green River Lakes campground won’t open until July 1st because of tree felling operations to remove beetle-killed hazard trees in the campground area. The trailhead, corrals, parking areas and boat launch are all open at Green River Lakes.
Wildflowers are in bloom, leaves are coming on the aspens and everything is absolutely beautiful and the scenery breathtaking. Daytime temperatures are 60-70 degrees, warm enough for shorts and t-shirt on the warm days. Be sure to bring warm clothes for evenings and when mountain storms pass through, which can drop temperatures down to the 30s-50s quickly. As a sure sign that winter will surely let go its grip soon and let summer take hold, mosquitoes are out now too.
Below are articles giving current conditions for three Wind River Mountains trailhead access points into the Bridger Wilderness, as of this past weekend, June 11-12, 2005:
Current conditions at Elkhart Park (Middle Wind River Range access) 12 photos by Dave Bell
Current conditions at Big Sandy Opening (Southern Winds, Cirque of the Towers access) 23 photos by Pinedale Online
Current conditions at Scab Creek (Middle/southern Wind River Range access) 26 photos by Pinedale Online