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Pinedale Online > News > May 2007 > Big Sandy – spring condition update

Big Sandy River. Photo by Ken & Laurie Hartwig.
Big Sandy River
The road in is mostly dry and the trail is open to within a couple of miles of Big Sandy Lake. Photo by Ken and Laurie Hartwig, taken Sunday, May 13th.

Big Sandy Elk. Photo by Ken & Laurie Hartwig.
Big Sandy Elk
One of the fun things about early spring hikes is there is often a good chance of seeing elk. Later in the season, they move up in to the higher country. Photo taken Sunday, by Ken & Laurie Hartwig.
Big Sandy – spring condition update
Road is open, trail open a little ways in before hitting snow
by Pinedale Online!
May 14, 2007

Ken & Laurie Hartwig hiked up the Big Sandy trail on Sunday and sent in a couple pictures. "The road is basically dry to the trailhead and we were able to hike within a couple of miles of Big Sandy Lake before we hit the snow line. The nice part was we were the only people up there. That’s the first time that has happened," Ken said.

Now that we’ve blabbed about the road being open, people will be back, but that would have happened anyway. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our area and are trying to plan hikes to the high trails, or want to get over to Cirque of the Towers, in general Jackass Pass opens up around 4th of July-ish. This year might be sooner because we appear to be several weeks early on weather. Please remember that weather in the high mountains can be very unpredictable, and it can snow any day of the year, even in the middle of the summer, so plan for the possibility. Once the mosquitoes come out, they will be pretty pesky, but right now hiking is pleasant and relatively bug free.

The road into Big Sandy is steep and can be rough in places. We recommend a high clearance vehicle, although a sedan and RVs can make it if you take it slow and navigate the rocks and ruts carefully. ATVers, please check with the Forest Service Pinedale Ranger District in Pinedale and grab a travel map to see which roads and trails are open and which are closed to 4-wheelers. Also, the Big Sandy campground and trailhead are very close to the Bridger Wilderness boundary. Reminder to mountain bikers and ATVers that no mechanized vehicles are allowed within the wilderness area.

Despite the remoteness of this area, the Big Sandy trailhead gets heavy use by hikers and people with livestock (horses, mules, llamas). Expect to meet other vehicles, ATVs and horse trailers on the narrow road coming in or out, so please be careful on the blind corners. Hikers, please be aware that if you get hurt or into trouble in the remote backcountry, help can be days away and your cell phone may not get reception to call for emergency help. This area is also bear country, so all the "clean camp" procedures apply here.

This trailhead accesses the southern end of the Wind River Mountain Range and Bridger Wilderness-Cirque of the Towers area. The only commercial services are at Big Sandy Lodge,, located not far from the campground. Be sure to gas up in Farson or Boulder and come in with a full tank, and have a spare tire with you. Big Sandy Lodge offers rustic cabin lodging, restaurant (for guests), horseback riding and guide services. They do not have electricity there in the cabins, which adds to the quaint and remote experience. A generator runs lights and powers the lodge.

Be sure to call well ahead to make lodging arrangements with them, as they book up quickly during their short season. Due to their remoteness, they don’t have internet access at the lodge and use a satellite phone to call out, but cell phones do work in places along the road in. Communication and supplies in and out sometimes takes days to get back and forth, so please plan accordingly and pre-arrange anything for a stay or meals there. Big Sandy Lodge can be a drop off point for supplies for Continental Divide Trail hikers, but you need to arrange this well in advance with them.

Photos by Ken and Laurie Hartwig

Pinedale Online > News > May 2007 > Big Sandy – spring condition update

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