12 Trails of Christmas: Sand Lake Road

I’ll admit. In the winter we ski up roads. This is Wyoming, we gotta do what we gotta do.

Sand Lake RoadIf you’ve never skied or snowshoed up Sand Lake Road in the beautiful Snowy Range add it to your ‘to do’ list.

To get here park at the Little Laramie trailhead, then hang a left from the parking lot and follow the tracks–there’ll be tracks up there unless you hit this place right after a storm. The tracks will lead you right to Sand Lake road and from there you can follow the road for a nice out and back.

Our goal is always to make it to the campground and beyond. Sometimes we even go off the road for a little more exploring.

Sand Lake Road

Sand Lake Road is one of those places where you might see a snowmobile track or two but you won’t see another soul, unless you see us. You can cross-country ski or snowshoe here. You can bet your Christmas money that if I had a fat bike I’d be taking it up this road too. Skiing up Sand Lake Road is another one of Laramie’s best kept secrets.

While you’re skiing you think about this awesome historic place just up the road.

 

12 Trails of Christmas: Aspen Trail to the Haunted Forest Trail

Aspen Trail to the Haunted Forest Trail

If you’re looking for the perfect place for an afternoon of snowshoeing you can’t go wrong from the Happy Jack trailhead. We love Happy Jack so much we’re talking about it again, with another route to check out, the Aspen Trail to the Haunted Forest Trail.

To get here start at the Happy Jack trailhead, head left at the base of the hill following the blue diamond markers on the trees. The trail will head toward the Pole Creek campground but keep going and head to the right before you get to the campground. You’ll climb a little bit until you get to the groomed ski trails. You can cut back or do a loop around the Aspen Trail.

Or you can keep snowshoeing through the campground and then hop on the Old Happy Jack road if there’s enough snow for an easier trek. Regardless, if you’re going to be fat biking or snowshoeing definitely think about starting from the Happy Jack trailhead.

12 Trails of Christmas: Corner Mountain

Corner Mountain.

TRAILS OF CHRISTMAS (6)

Chances are that if you’ve driven up the Snowy Range Scenic byway you’ve past by the Corner Mountain trailhead a dozen times without stopping to check out the trails. No judgement here–during the summer I pass by these trails a lot without even thinking about it to get up to the higher alpine terrain.

But, don’t pass by them in the winter.

corner mountain

Put your snowshoes in the car and head up there today.

Corner mountain has around 4 miles of really fun terrain perfect snowshoeing or cross-country skiers who might be a little bit more advance. What makes the terrain awesome is that there are a lot of fun uphills and downhills, you definitely won’t get bored on this trail.

p.s. Corner Mountain is also one of our favorite places to go hunting for a Christmas tree!

Have you snowshoed or skied at Corner Mountain?

12 Trails of Christmas: Vedauwoo

TRAILS OF CHRISTMAS (5)

When people think of Vedauwoo they think of rock climbing, or mountain biking or hiking or just lazy Sunday afternoons of scrambling on the gigantic granite boulders that rise out of the vast prairie.

In the winter we think of something else…snowshoeing!

Vedauwoo

If you think Vedauwoo is magical in the summer you need to go there in the winter when a blanket of white coats the landscape.

Usually we just park in the parking lot outside of the fee booth and either head down the road or meander our way through the campground not really following a trail but going wherever our snowshoes take us.

Vedauwoo doesn’t always collect a lot of snow and sometimes there are bare patches combined with huge snowdrifts so it’s also a good place for winter hiking if snowshoeing isn’t your thing.

Here’s the summer video but we love Vedauwoo year-round.

Have you ever snowshoed Vedauwoo?

 

 

12 Trails of Christmas: Medicine Bow Rail Trail

TRAILS OF CHRISTMAS (4)

The 22 miles making up the Medicine Bow Rail Trail are Laramie’s best kept secret…especially in the winter.

That’s why we’re adding it to our list of favorite local places for winter outdoor recreation. If you haven’t skied or snowshoed along the rail trail you need it, trust me.

12 day rail trail

With pristine snow, most of it unskied and untouched this is the place to go if you’re looking for minimal elevation changes, surprising views and just to get away from the hustle and bustle of some of our more crowded local trails (ahem, Tie City).

Be prepared to break track if you hit up the rail trail but I promise that it will be so worth it to glide effortlessly along the old rail bed or enjoy an easy jaunt on snowshoes.

If you’re headed to the rail trail with kiddos we recommend starting from the Lake Owen trailhead but there are plenty of trailheads to choose from and miles of trails to explore. Here’s a summertime video, but it’s equally fun (if not more) to explore these trails in the winter.

You can be sure that we’ll see you on the rail trail this winter!

 

12 Trails of Christmas: Chimney Park

Sometimes we take a break from the blog to do things like this…

IMG_5784

But now we’re back on schedule and coming out you with #5 on our list of favorite winter trails near Laramie, Wyoming and hopefully giving you an idea or two about where to spend your holiday vacation.

TRAILS OF CHRISTMAS (3)

We’ve written a lot about Chimney Park this summer, mainly because the trails are super easy, kid-friendly and wheelchair accessible (albeit boring if you’re a peak bagger).

But, in the winter Chimney Park transforms into a winter wonderland with good snow, groomed ski trails maintained by the Forest Service and flat easy terrain perfect for beginning cross-country skiers. You can also snowshoe here, just be sure to stick to the side of the trail if it’s groomed so protect the ski tracks.

Chimney Park

In fact, if you’re about to strap the ski’s on and free the heel for the first time ever forgo the popular trails at Tie City where the terrain really isn’t suitable for beginners and drive just a wee bit further to the Chimney Park trails. You’ll be out of the wind quicker and on to terrain that is much, much easier and more manageable for rookies.

Chimney Park also happens to be another one of our favorite destinations for full moon skiing and just a nice place to go to enjoy an afternoon on the trails. If you want to make sure that the trails are groomed ahead of time we recommend swinging by the Forest Service office in Laramie or giving them a quick call or tweet. But don’t be afraid to break your own track, that’s half the fun!

Stay tuned we’ll be back tomorrow (or in a day or two….) with our #6 favorite place for winter activities near Laradise.

 

12 Trails of Christmas: Barber Lake Road

TRAILS OF CHRISTMAS (2)

When Al and I were undergrads at the University of Wyoming one of our favorite places to ski wasn’t on a trail but up a road, Barber Lake Road in the Snowy Range.

Since this road isn’t plowed during the winter it’s a wonderful scenic place to ski or snowshoe.

Barber Lake Road

There are a few different ways to attack this road. You can either park near the start of Barber Lake Road and ski and out and back (or an up and down) or you can park at the top of Barber Lake Road (or even at the Green Rock trailhead) and ski down and then up.

Or…find a buddy with a car and park one car at the bottom of the road and another at the top of the road. Then you can ski down and drive back up to get the other car–dirtbag kayaker style.

Naturally some would say this is cheating..but I’ve tackled the road this way before and liked it so I’m not going to pass judgment onto anyone who is outside skiing or snowshoeing instead of sitting at home binge eating cheese puffs.

Barber Lake road isn’t groomed, but it is quite popular with skiers and snowshoers and chances are that you won’t have to break track there unless you hit the road right after a big storm. It can be a little bit windy on this road sometimes during the winter but it’s worth it for the breathtaking views.

p.s. Barber Lake Road is our second favorite place for moonlight skiing.

barber lake road 2

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s awesome winter trail location!

And just in case you’ve missed it this week we’ve talked about Libby Creek Trail, Snowy Range Trails & Happy Jack.

 

 

12 Trails of Christmas: Happy Jack

TRAILS OF CHRISTMAS (1)

We love Happy Jack.

Not just because it’s a 15 minute commute from our garage to the trailhead but because Happy Jack combines the perfect trifeca of a wicked fast sledding hill with winter trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Sure, you can also fat bike and snowboard on the trails from the Happy Jack trailhead too so I guess that would make it the perfect quintfecta.

Happy Jack

We also love that the Happy Jack trailhead is just a wee bit more protected from the wind than the Tie City trailhead. (Notice I said wee bit, no part of Pole Mountain is really 100% protected from the Wyoming wind…)

We have 3 favorite places for moonlight skiing, and Happy Jack is one of them because you can build a small fire in the fire pit at the picnic area and enjoy s’mores or any other delicious campfire treat before or after you ski.

If you’re looking for a really fun adventure (or date night idea) and trying to get a jump start on holiday awesomeness head up to Happy Jack on December 6th (that’s Saturday!) to enjoy some full moon hiking (or skiing, if we get some snow….c’mon Mother Nature)

There are so many reasons to love Happy Jack we could go on forever…but it’s really the perfect place for out of town relatives if you’re looking for adventures that are close to home (even for our Cheyenne buddies) especially if you only have an hour or two to play outside.

You can check out more details about trails from the Happy Jack trailhead on our trail page.

Or print off a free downloadable trail guide so you can find your way along the trail here.

And if you are looking for a trail guide that is also water-resistant check out our trail deck page here. Don’t forget to use the coupon code SANTA for 15% off thru 12-24-14.

Be sure to check our flickr photo set too so you can plan your trip before you head out.

Stay tuned, we’re coming at you with a real gem tomorrow!

12 Trails of Christmas: Snowy Range Trails

TRAILS OF CHRISTMAS

Did you know that there are two miles of really fun and really easy cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails just at the base of the Snowy Range Ski Area?

These trails are a hidden gem. They are rarely used, sometimes groomed and a fantastic place to take novice skiers or out of town relatives who want a dose of the mountains but might be struggling to acclimate.

Snowy Range

In fact if I were to put together the perfect day on the mountain that has a little bit of something for everyone it would be a morning of downhill skiing at the Snowy Range Ski Area, an outdoor picnic lunch (bring the jetboil for soup &/or hot cocoa) and snowshoeing or cross-country skiing around the nordic ski trails at the base of the mountain. Then some late afternoon, early evening tubing back at the ski area.

There you go, your Christmas Day has just been planned!

You can check out more details about these trails on our trail page.

Or print off a free downloadable trail guide here.

And if you want a water-resistant trail guide check it out on our trail deck page. Use the coupon code SANTA for 15% off thru 12-24-14.

We also have a great flickr photo set so you can see what the trails look like before you head that way.

Stay tuned, tomorrow we’ll highlight our third favorite winter trail.

 

 

12 Trails of Christmas: Libby Creek Trail

It’s that time of the year.

Every outdoor blogger is publishing their must have gear lists, others are doing 12 days of giveaways. But we’re doing our own thing. We’re going to spend the next 12 days highlighting some of our favorite winter trails. We’re calling it the 12 Trails of Christmas.

TRAILS OF CHRISTMAS

Our hope is that when you have a houseful of company for the holidays all you’ll need to do is hop on our website to find the perfect trail where everyone to enjoy a day of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or even winter hiking.

First Up: The Libby Creek Trail

To get to the Libby Creek Trail follow highway 130 past Centennial for 9 miles. Park at the Green Rock Trailhead. The Libby Creek Trail is a 3 mile loop from the trailhead.

This is a great place for snowshoeing because it does have some diverse terrain with a good mix of long gradual climbs and shorter steep sections. If you’re comfortable skiing you can also bring your Nordic ski’s here-although it’s probably not the easiest terrain for a beginner.

This trail is one of our favorites making it our #1 choice for winter fun.

Libby Creek Trail on 11-30-14

Libby Creek Trail on 11-30-14

You can check out more details about this trail on our trail page.

Or print off a free downloadable trail guide so you can find your way along the trail here.

And if you like that, but want a trail guide that’s also water-resistant (perfect for snowshoeing) check out our trail deck page here. Use the coupon code SANTA to take an additional 15% off through 12-24-14.

We also have an awesome flickr photo set so you can see more of this trail both during the winter and the summer here.

Stay tuned, tomorrow we’ll highlight our second favorite winter trail!