Condition report for the Highline Trail
by Pinedale Online!
June 18, 2007
(Pinedale) - We’ve had some folks ask about the condition for the Highline Trail in the Wind River Mountains - Bridger Wilderness, so we made some phone calls to find out. It is still just the middle of June, so this is very early spring in the high country. Usually these areas don’t open up until early/mid-July. We seem to be about a month early on snow melt this year, so access is ahead of the usual “schedule”.
We can tell by looking at the White Pine Resort (www.whitepineski.com) webcams that the snow line appears to be around 10,000-10,500 feet elevation. The peaks in the Wind River Mountains go up to 13,000+. Jackass Pass over to Cirque of the Towers is at 10,800 feet. Expect all these high passes to still have snow for another couple of weeks yet.
All the high trailheads are accessible by vehicle (Green River Lakes, Elkhart, Big Sandy). Most are still uncrowded, but you will still likely run into people on the trail. The stock pack trip use is still light right now and won't get going into full swing for another couple of weeks when things dry out and open up more.
According to Chris over at the Great Outdoor Shop in Pinedale Monday afternoon (www.greatoutdoorshop.com), the last report they had was from about a week ago. Jackass Pass had snow and it was still fairly difficult to get in and out of the Big Sandy Lake area. No one has been in the store who has been through the Highline Trail and given back any reports yet, so they couldn’t speak to conditions on that. The Great Outdoor Shop has topo maps and a good selection of trail hiking guide books for our area mountains in their store. They also have a great selection of hiking, camping and fishing gear designed to work well in our area. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about places to go in our mountains.
We also got an e-mail from Tim Lightner, co-owner of Big Sandy Lodge (www.big-sandy-lodge.com) at the southern end of the Wind River Range near the Big Sandy Trailhead. He told us that the trail from Big Sandy Campground to Clear Lake is fine. The gravel road from north of Farson to the Midland intersection (this is the desert flats section coming from the highways in) is really bad. Expect plenty of bumps and from his experience the road won’t likely be graded until August or September. Take it slow and allow plenty of time to get there (and be sure to have a spare tire and jack along).
The Pinedale Ranger District (www.fs.fed.us/btnf) said it is still very early in the season and hikers should expect some patches of snow in places as they gain elevation from above 10,000 feet on up. The Forest Service didn’t have specific field reports in yet for trail conditions. No fire restrictions. Fire danger on the Pinedale Ranger District just went up from Low to MODERATE.
So, in summary, it’s really early season, but things are opening up earlier than usual. Low elevation hiking is no problem. If you want to get to the higher trails, expect to run into patches of snow, wet/muddy trail conditions, could be trees down across trails, high water crossings. Ticks and pesky mosquitoes are out.
If anyone has been out on any of the trails and would give us more information or reports on specific locations, we'd appreciate getting an e-mail with the details so we can pass the info on: firstname.lastname@example.org