What You Need To Know About the Snow Survey Cabin

Last weekend we headed to the Snowies to celebrate our oldest kiddo’s 5th birthday.

We’re all about birthday adventures at our house and our kids are all about trying to stay in every single Forest Service cabin that exists.

The Snow Survey Cabin

So naturally we had to check out the Snow Survey Cabin on the back side of Medicine Bow Peak.

We’d heard great things about this cabin, especially in the winter since it has propane heat and lights.

But since we didn’t get up there last winter July seemed like a decent enough time to go, even though we booked our stay in recreation.gov several months ago to make sure we got it for the big birthday weekend.

Here’s a little synopsis of our stay and details about the fascinating history of the cabin.


A few things you need to know if you head there.

  • The outhouse is pristine, the most non-stinky outhouse ever!
  • The cabin is super clean and organized, a completely different experience than the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station which seemed cluttered and dirty after staying at the Snow Survey Cabin.  I don’t think any cabin in the woods is entirely mouse-free but there was no evidence of mice inside the Snow Survey Cabin.
  • The cabin is stocked with dishes, pans, and basic necessities. But don’t forget an axe to split firewood if you want to use the outdoor firepit, matches, toilet paper, and sheets for the beds.
  • The cabin has lights and heat, it’s almost too luxurious!
  • There isn’t any drinking water or a pump at the cabin, You could boil water from the creek or just bring your own water jug from home.
  • Make sure you reserve this place months in advance, it fills up quickly year round. When we called to get the code for the door we were also super impressed with how kind and friendly the Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District office was so thank you for that.

More details and booking information can be found right here.

(p.s. We don’t get paid to review Forest Service cabins or anything really so do know that all of these thoughts are our own)

Have you stayed at the Snow Survey Cabin? What did you think?

What You Need To Know About Medicine Bow Peak

So, maybe you’ve lived in Laramie your entire life and climbed to the top of Medicine Bow Peak dozens of times.

Or, perhaps you’re new to town and looking to learn more about this iconic peak.

Regardless we thought we’d talk about one of our favorite places (ever!) on the blog today, ‘The Peak.’

The best place to start if you’re looking to summit this peak is on our trail page, where you can learn more about the trek to the top and print off a FREE downloadable trail guide. We also have an entire map card dedicated to this peak our Trail Deck and an app and it’s mentioned in our e-book as well. So tons of resources right at your fingertips.

Please don’t be like the group we found last summer, lost and trying to navigate their way to the top with a bad map, that’s not fun for anyone!


Now, I’m assuming you’re here because you already have your reasons for wanting to climb the peak but just in case you need some convincing here are 5 reasons why you should add this to your summer bucket list.

When you’re charging up or down the peak if you know exactly where to look chances are you can view some wreckage from United Airlines Flight 409, which crashed smack dab into the mountain during a storm in 1955. It’s a sad, but true tale.

But there have also been amazing things to happen on the peak, like an old fire lookout and the scandal that took place to construct it, or the first woman to ever “man” the lookout tower. You can read both of those stories here.

And last, but certainly not least. If you’re a parent the thought of climbing the peak with your children (especially babies and toddlers) might seem daunting. But I’m here to hook you up with a High 5 and tell you to go for it. I’ve climbed this mountain pregnant, with a baby, toddler, preschooler and I’m not that awesome. You can climb this mountain with kids of all ages. These tips will help.

Have questions about how to climb the peak? We’re always here to help. Hook us up with a note or send us a quick comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Top 10 Things You Need To Know About the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station

The Little Brooklyn Guard Station.

This iconic cabin in the Snowy Range is a place that you need to experience. I stayed at this cabin twice this winter and here are a few things that might help you plan a weekend there.

  • Book the cabin early. You can book it up to 6 months in advance, if you’re looking to reserve it for a special day then it might be worth it to get up at midnight to make your reservation. I’m not joking. Currently renting the cabin costs $40.00 per night. I did learn that if you change your reservation recereation.gov you’ll get hooked you up with a big fat fee even if it’s still months in advance. I want to say the fee $50.00 so beware of that little extra fee.
  • The cabin has 1 futon, 1 set of bunk beds, and 3 single beds. Say hello to the “hobbit bed”–fun for kids and that’s about it unless you want to make an epic bunk bed fort, which we did (of course!).
  • The cabin description on recreation.gov isn’t completely up to date. As of a few weeks ago there is no refrigerator or gas heating. Neither of which are a problem. If you go during the winter let nature be your fridge. If you go during the summer pack along a cooler and sufficient ice. The cabin does have a wood burning stove which can reach sauna-like temperatures, you won’t be cold in this cabin once you get that stove fired up.
  • There are mice in this cabin, so keep it clean and pack your food up well, especially at night.
  • Be prepared to ski or snowshoe in from October to the end of May. When we went a few weeks ago, I dropped Al and the kids off near the turn off to the Mountain Meadows Cabins and then parked the car at the Green Rock trailhead and skied up from there to meet them. It worked out great, especially if you’re heading in with kiddos who might be good on skis or snowshoes for just a mile or two.
  • Bring a sled in the winter, a hammock, fishing pole and a good book in the summer. The sledding might be the best part about staying at the cabin. This place has the most scenic sledding ever.
  • This cabin gets a lot of use and abuse, and I doubt that it’s high on the priority list for maintenance and upgrades. But it’s actually pretty clean–or was left clean the two times I’ve stayed there. I pack along sheets to cover the futon and beds, mostly because dogs are allowed in the cabin and I’m allergic to dogs so putting a buffer between me and any residual pet hair is a good thing. I also have a thing for cleanliness…so if you’re a neat freak or an allergy sufferer trust me, bring some sheets.
  • This cabin has a nice supply of cookware, pots, pans, cooking and eating utensilss, plates, mugs etc. So there’s no need to pack that stuff in or drive it in if you head there in the summer. But don’t forget garbage bags, toilet paper, and matches. Fire starter is good to have in the winter too. Previous occupants are supposed to stock the wood pile but you might find yourself stuck with wet or no kindling.
  • This cabin is not a place to go if you’re looking for peace and quiet in the winter. There is a lot of snowmobile traffic on the way to the cabin and around the cabin.  For the most part, we like snowmobilers, they make a nice packed surface to ski on and most of them slow down and are courteous. But snowmobiles are noisy and there is a constant hum of snowmobiles in the area during daylight hours. If you’re looking for solitude and quiet go in May when there’s still enough snow to ski or snowshoe in but not much left for snowmobilers.
  • Bring a hammock! I’m serious. The beams on the cabin’s porch are the perfect distance apart for a lazy nap in a hammock.


Have you stayed at the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station? What advice or tips would you give to those who want to stay there?

3 More Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

Last summer we published a list of our top kid-friendly hikes near Laramie.

3 More Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

Those hikes include the following:

When I originally wrote this post I thought it was a bit incomplete so today I’m going to add three more kid-friendly hikes.

top kid-friendly hikes near laramie

I hesitated in putting this path on the original list because it’s a paved route, not a dirt trail and we’re all about bonafide trails around here. Just park at Lake Marie in the Snowies and follow the path up to Mirror Lake. This short path is quickly becoming a favorite of my children because they can splash in two freezing-cold alpine lakes and then if we have time cross the highway and walk down (a real trail) to see the waterfall.

3 More Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

Once again this is another path that didn’t make the cut with my first post because it is a paved path. But, Box Canyon is another one of our favorites. My kids love that this path goes past several fun caves and rock formations and then breaks into a dirt path, a dilapidated old bridge and mecca for bouldering.  Just park at the Veduwoo gazebo and head on down the path, but don’t feed the chipmunks or I’ll blog about you (you’ve been warned…;)


Curt Gowdy State Park is growing on me, I’m starting to like it there more than I used to and we hike to Hidden Falls at least a few times every summer. But, sometimes I don’t want to deal with crowds or get in the way of the mountain bike crowd. So, we’ll start hiking from the Visitors Center. There’s maybe a mile or so of paved and dirt paths across the prairie. The wildflowers are amazing here in the summer, the views spectacular since it’s so high up, no one is ever on these trails and you can park for free at the Visitors Center.

3 More Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

What are your top picks for kid-friendly hikes near Laramie?


Wheelchair Accessible Trails Near Laramie, Wyoming

Recently I spent some time skiing with the Paralympic Biathlon Team on Casper Mountain. To say that the experience was life changing was an understatement. Every day I was inspired by these adaptive athletes and their determination, drive and never-quit attitude.

As I was talking with the athletes and learning about their injuries my thoughts kept drifting to Just Trails. We tried so hard to think of everything when we put together our business model. But, one thing we didn’t think about is which trails are accessible to those in wheelchairs or those who might be blind or need a little extra assistance when navigating the terrain.

We’ve written about kid-friendly trails and trails that are compatible with a jogging stroller but tackling the issue of local wheelchair friendly trails is something I feel like we need to do.

I’ve spent weeks thinking about this blog post and going over every trail I can possibly think of in my head only to come up with a few trails which I would consider wheelchair accessible. I’m not counting paved paths in town such as the Greenbelt and various paths around parks, but real mountain trails. Here’s the list, if I’m missing one or two please leave a comment below to help build this list.

1. Chimney Park

This is a winter video but it’s a good indicator of the terrain at Chimney Park. In the summer Chimney Park boasts miles of wide dirt trails with minimal elevation gain.

The trails are old Forest Service roads and are frequently used by ATVs so be on the lookout for potholes after a rainstorm. But for most of the summer they are dry and accessible.

chimney park rainstorm

2. Medicine Bow Rail Trail

The rail trail is an awesome multi-use trail. The terrain is relatively flat, and the trails are wide and mostly unused. It’s Laramie’s best kept secret. There are several trailheads to choose from.

The trails are composed of crushed rock rather than smooth dirt so a good set of rugged and dependable tires would be a must for a wheelchair here.


3. Lake Marie to Mirror Lake

Lake Marie to Mirror Lake

There is a short paved trail that goes from Lake Marie to Mirror Lake in Wyoming’s beautiful Snowy Range. This is perhaps one of the most scenic paths on the mountain. The only concern would be elevation, it’s a gentle climb up to Mirror Lake which would not be a problem for wheelchairs, but going down could be a little well, exciting. You could do a drop off at Lake Marie and a pick up at Mirror Lake though to get the full experience.

4. Lake Owen  Loop

Lake Owen Loop

There is a nice 2 mile loop around Lake Owen that is not officially part of the rail trail, but still in the vicinity of the rail trail. Most of this trail is crushed gravel, especially if you start off headed to the northwest around the lake. If you head the other direction (toward the train) you’ll come to a cool wooden bridge where you’ll be able to have great views of the lake and mountains beyond.


There is a small section where the trail mysteriously disappears into a marsh near the Lake Owen campground, it would be challenging to maneuver a wheelchair through this area but you can do an out and back from there.

We don’t have a trail map for this short trail but you can get to it from the Lake Owen trailhead for the Medicine Bow Rail Trail, just follow the loop around the lake.

Traillink also has a good list of trails in Wyoming & Colorado to check out for more information.

If you take a wheelchair out on our local trails. I’d love to hear where you go and what you think of this list, and if you agree or disagree with these recommendations. Thanks! 

Top 10 Reasons to Hike the Medicine Bow Rail Trail

Last week Eve Newman with the Laramie Boomerang asked Al & I this question.

“Where’s your favorite place to hike?”

Like a total wimp I blurted out, “The Rail Trail!”

The rail trail. It’s flat, long and relatively boring. I publicly admitted that it’s my favorite trail. There goes my dignity.

But it’s true. I love the rail trail and here’s why.

rail trail

1) You never know what you’re going to see on the Medicine Bow Rail Trail. 

At the start of a hike about a month ago I saw a cow try to jump over a picnic table at the Woods Creek trailhead. He did not clear the table (didn’t even come close). It was not a graceful landing. My boys and I spent the entire morning laughing at the “silly” cow as we wandered down the trails.

2) You can hike fast…really fast. 

Sometimes it feels silly to even call this trail a trail, but because the terrain is so easy you can really book it down the trail making it perfect for days when you don’t feel like climbing but want to log a high mileage day.

3) You can see fire damage and regrowth. 


Portions of the trail go through areas that were burned by the Owen Fire earlier this summer. It’s haunting and beautiful to walk through these areas. It’s also amazing to see how fast the forest bounces back after a fire.

4) You won’t see anyone….well, almost.


We hike sections of this trail at least two times/week. I only remember seeing probably 3-4 other hikers, maybe a half dozen ATV riders (most of this trail parallels an ATV trail but sometimes they ride on the trail) and a few horseback riders. The most populated part of the trail is near Lake Owen. I think this trail is Laramie’s best (or worst) kept secret.

5) There are lot of great places for picnic lunches. 

Our favorites are Woods Creek Trailhead and Lake Owen but there are hundreds of places where you can stop in the shade of a tree and enjoy a picnic along the 22 mile stretch.

6) As you walk past the gated community of Fox Park you can wonder about the 22 people who live there.


Fox Park, it’s such a curiosity. Who lives there? After such a huge legal battle I’m intrigued about this little community and honestly, I don’t really mind hiking around it because it gives me time to imagine what it would be like to live in Fox Park.

7) You might see a deer, or a moose, or a cow and evidence of all three.


Okay fine, we’ve mostly seen cow on the trail. But they are wild Wyoming cows so they count as wildlife.

8) You might see a horse.

Nothing makes my kids more excited than seeing someone riding a “horsey” when we’re out on a hike. So if you ride horses get out there so my kids can watch you, point, and ask me impossible questions like “Why is that horse black?”

9) The trail is well marked. 


10) It easily accommodates a jogging stroller. Perfect for families with little kiddos.


***Bonus-We’ve found wild raspberry bushes along this trail and it’s super beautiful there right now!

Now just in case I haven’t convinced you to check out the Rail Trail yet perhaps this video will:

Have you hiked, jogged, rode, skied or snowshoed along the Medicine Bow Rail Trail? What is your favorite section?

For more information about the Rail Trail check out this link.

Top 5 Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

This summer I’ve been on a mission.

To find hiking destinations with nice scenery, minimal elevation change and trails wide enough to accommodate a jogging stroller because let’s be honest–I’d love to ditch the Chariot but 1/2 mile down the trail I’m usually pushing one child and carrying the other.

5 Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie, WY (1)Sure, I like steep technical trails and amazing views as much as the next hiker but since most of the time I hit the trails with William (3) and Finn (1) I need to go for easy.

I you’re looking to find us on a weekday morning there’s a good chance that we’re meandering our way along one of our 5 favorite kid-friendly hikes.

1. Chimney Park


The Chimney Park trail system  has four main trails that meander through a forest of Pine and Aspen.

Most of the elevation changes are gentle except for certain sections of the Jelm View and Lodgepole Loops. The trails are wide, stroller-friendly and well marked with blue diamonds along the trail and signs at the intersections. In addition to the marked trails, some old Forest Service roads intersect the trails and provide additional opportunities for exploring and extra mileage for when the kids fall asleep and Mom wants to keep hiking.

You can read more about Chimney Park here.

2. Medicine Bow Rail Trail


The rail trail is my ‘go to’ trail when I’m hoping that the kids will fall asleep so I can get in along hike. With 6 different trailheads it’s easy to hike a different section of the trail every day. The entire trail is 22 miles long starting from the Dry Park Trailhead a few miles south of Albany and ending at the Pelton Creek Trailhead along the Wyoming Colorado Border.

The trail follows the graded railroad bed of the old Hahns Peak and Pacific Railroad through the Medicine Bow National Forest.

We’ve seen deer, woodpeckers, moose and cow on this trail making it a good one for wildlife spotting and this trail is very well maintained and easy to push a jogging stroller on. One note of caution however, this trail is closed to ATV’s but you will see motorized vehicles on this trail-especially near Fox Park.

You can find more information about the Medicine Bow Rail Trail here.

3. Lake Owen Loop


There is a nice 2 mile loop around Lake Owen that is not officially part of the rail trail, but still in the vicinity of the rail trail. We love this trail on hot days because it offers several chances to stop and splash in Lake Owen along the way. You can also see burned trees from the recent Owen Fire. Every time we go back there’s evidence of new growth and I like being able to talk to my boys about forest fires and the regrowth period after a fire.

There is a small section where the trail mysteriously disappears into a marsh near the campground which is annoying but you can still push a stroller through the grass. It’s easy to pick the trail up back at the campground.

We don’t have a trail map for this short trail but you can get to it from the Lake Owen trailhead for the Medicine Bow Rail Trail, just follow the loop around the lake.

4. Pole Creek Trail


While I like starting our hikes from the Tie City or Happy Jack trailheads (especially on days when we only have an hour or so to hike) they are frequently busy with mountain bike traffic. When I’m with my kids I feel like we take up the entire trail and get in the way so we drive down the road from the Happy Jack trailhead to the Pole Creek campground and start our hikes from there.

This trail is rarely used, wide enough to push a stroller and there’s a cool little bridge about 1/2 mile down the trail. It’s another place where we like to stop and splash around in warm days.

You can find out more about this trail here.

5. Bear Lake

#bearlakeThe trek to Bear Lake in the Snowy Range is technically not a trail, it’s USFS Road 396. The parking lot is just past the turnoff to Sugarloaf and below the scenic overlook. But, the hike across Libby Flats is gorgeous! The road is open and you’ll see 4 wheel drive vehicles on it, but it doesn’t see a lot of vehicular traffic during the week.

Just be forewarned it’s downhill to the lake making it all uphill on the way back to the parking lot.

There are wildflowers, moose, and breathtaking panoramic vistas. It’s about 4 miles to the lake which is beautiful and worth every single step. We hiked through snow until mid-July along this road and it is closed to all motor vehicles during the winter. We’re going to try to cross-country ski down it this winter.

Have you hiked any of these trails? What are you favorite kid-friendly trails near Laramie?

Top 5 Reasons to Climb Medicine Bow Peak

Imagine sitting at 12,013 feet downing a handful of M&M’s and looking at a view like this.

Not too shabby huh?

One of our favorite hikes of all time is the trek up to the top of Medicine Bow Peak and consequently, it’s our most popular trail page.

A few weeks ago we headed that direction and we were amazed at how many people were climbing to the top.

This peak does not discriminate. We saw old people, middle-aged people, teenagers, and even another family packing a baby to the top (right on!). We saw people hiking in blue jeans, running shoes and without fancy schmanzy daypacks and trekking poles. We saw people of all shapes and sizes and varying degrees of fitness levels.

Can I just say that it was awesome!

There’s something amazing about the trek to the top, it is indeed a challenging hike but real people can do it, and they do!

If you haven’t climbed ‘Med Bow’ the time is now and just in case I haven’t convinced you yet here’s 5 more reasons why the summit is calling your name.


#4.jpg#3.jpg#2.jpg#1.jpg Now, if you can’t make it up there this summer that’s okay. Check out this video we made of the descent.

And here’s some bonus trivia. Did you know that an airplane once crashed into Medicine Bow Peak and you can still see the wreckage today? There also used to be a lookout tower on the top of Medicine Bow Peak that was constructed under some pretty shady circumstances and a woman once “manned” the tower, it was quite a big deal back in the day.

Have you summited Med Bow? What’s your favorite thing about the trek up the mountain?

3 Favorite Snowshoe Trails Near Laramie, WY

Spring is almost here but there’s still good snowshoeing to be had.

If you’ve been following our “how to snowshoe” series this winter you know that spring is one of our favorite times to snowshoe, especially since a trailhead might be dry but you might find yourself post-holing a mile up the trail.

If you’re in Southeastern Wyoming or visiting this awesome part of the state during the winter months here are a few of our favorite places to snowshoe.

1) Medicine Bow Rail Trail.

Albany Rail Trail Guide

We like to park just past Chimney Park and hop on the rail trail. Rarely do we see anyone else on this trail and it’s a great place to just kind of get away from it all. This is also one of our favorite trails for skiing.

2) Sand Lake Road. Sand Lake Road is one of our favorites for great views and gentle terrain. We start by parking at the Little Laramie Trailhead, then head to the far end of the parking area near a small clump of trees to find a short, steep trail that will take you to the road. It can be tricky to find but so worth it.

3) Happy Jack. A lot of people start snowshoeing from the Tie City trailhead but we like to avoid the wind and head down the mountain a little way to the Happy Jack trailhead. This is one of our favorite places to go if we just have an hour or two to snowshoe and there are a ton of trails to choose from in the area.

Where do you like to snowshoe?

And in case you’ve missed the rest of our ‘how to snowshoe’ series you can find a collection of the blog posts in this series below.

* Bonus Content: Should Snowshoeing be an Olympic Sport? 

5 Hot Outdoor Dates To Heat Up Your Love Life

It’s almost Valentine’s Day.

Blah, blah, blah.

If you’re like me the most exciting part of Valentine’s Day is actually the day after Valentine’s Day when all of that amazing chocolate goes on sale.

But, this year Valentine’s Day coincides with a full moon! If that’s not an excuse to take the love of your life on an outdoor date I don’t know what is. Today we’re sharing 5 local hot outdoor dates to heat up your love life. Trust me, they’re awesome.

  • Go night skiing or snowshoeing. Recently I wrote an article over at Seattle Backpackers Magazine on this very topic. You can check it out here. 
  • Go snow tubing at the Snowy Range Ski Area. We haven’t been yet, but it is so cool that our local hill has added tubing! If you head that way leave us a comment and tell us how awesome it was!
  • Let’s say you’re a broke college student (been there) or just plain frugal (yep) and you don’t want to pay to go tubing at Snowy Range (it does seem a bit pricy doesn’t it?) why not go to Kmart, buy a cheap plastic sled and head up to Happy Jack where you can have a crazy fun time on a wicked fast hill for the cost of a trail fee.
  • Enjoy a full moon winter hike. Have you ever been up to Vedauwoo in the winter? Better yet, Vedauwoo covered in snow on the night of a full moon? Be careful though, no one wants to fall off an icy rock ledge and wreck a hot date with a trip to the ER.
  • Rent and ski or snowshoe into a yurt! I love “camping” in yurts, they are so much fun. It might be too late to rent a  yurt for Valentine’s Day but it’s worth making a few phone calls to check for last minute cancellations. We stayed at the Clark Peak Yurt a while back and it was awesome, you can check it out here.

You can make the date even more special by building a small campfire and (responsibly) enjoying an adult libation at the trailhead (or foil dinners and ‘smores), or listening to Boys II Men’s ‘I’ll make love to you’ or P/Diddy’s ‘I need a girl‘ (if you couldn’t find a hot date) as you drive home.

But, what if you’re old, boring, married and you don’t want to pay for a sitter? How about a family date? Here’s our plan. We’re going to bundle the kids up, and take them full moon skiing at Chimney Park (because nothing says romance like skiing with your husband, a 2 1/2 year old and an 8 month old). We’ll probably start skiing before it gets dark since that’s just easier with kiddos and we’ll eat delicious snacks as we ski and watch the sun set and moon rise. If you’re in Laramie and you want to join us let me know!

What are your big plans for Valentine’s Day?