So you want to wander some trails without staring at someone else’s backpack the whole time. We put together a list of trails for solitude in the Snowy Range to help you out. Just remember that some of these trails offer solitude because it takes quite a bit of time and effort to get to them.
- The north and middle sections of Sheep Lake Trail: Sheep Lake Trail can get a lot of traffic during the summer months, especially starting from the Brooklyn Lake Trailhead. However, all of these people usually disappear by the time you get north of Sheep Lake leaving you miles of alpine terrain dotted with lakes to take in by yourself at your own pace. If you start from the Sand Lake Trailhead you’ll have the trail to yourself even sooner and you’ll walk through several alternating sections of forest and meadow before reaching the alpine zone. Of all the trails on the list this one is the most scenic and probably the second easiest to get to.
- Quealy Lake Trail: Quealy Lake Trail, especially the west section, just doesn’t see many travelers. To get to the trailhead (and the two cabins next to it) you’ll have to walk almost 3 miles from the parking area down Forest Road 103. The road all the way to the trailhead is open part of the year but you will absolutely need a four wheel drive with good ground clearance to get there. And you’ll need to know how to drive over terrain that is rocky, steep, and rutted and there are a few stream crossings. This road is quite popular with ATVs. You can also get to the west section of Quealy Lake Trail from Gap Lakes Trail. Your main hassle with this route will be people and a few very rocky trail sections. For all your trouble, you’ll get to see things that not many people every see like Reservoir Lake and Reservoir Lake Falls as well as the terrain just north of Medicine Bow Peak.
- Savage Run Wilderness: I think the main reason why the Savage Run Wilderness offers good solitude is that you have to drive for quite a while just to get to any of the trailheads. Also, I don’t think many people try to fish Savage Run or Cottonwood Creek and there aren’t many places where you’ll get a grand scenic view. What you will get is the woods all to yourself and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot some wildlife thanks in part to the overall lack of people. We’ve spotted several moose and golden eagles here. In fact I shot this moose video in the Savage Run Wilderness.
- Platte Ridge Trail in the Platte River Wilderness: The Platte River Wilderness gets quite a few visitors but most of these are people who come to fish the Platte River or Douglas Creek. If you start from the Pelton Creek Trailhead and get up on the Platte Ridge Trail you’ll almost certainly have it’s 7.9 miles all to yourself. Most of the trail will be heavily wooded with several small meadows. If you get an early start there is a reasonable chance you’ll spot some wildlife along this trail as well. When we last walked this trail about 5 miles in there were several sections that were difficult to get through because of fallen trees. I know the Forest Service works hard to keep all the trails clear so that may not still be the case.
- Sheep Mountain: Sheep Mountain may seem like an odd choice for this list but even though everyone has to drive past it to get anywhere else in the Snowy Range (coming from the east anyway) few people hike it. I think it’s a good place for solitude because no matter where you start there is a steep climb ahead of you before you get near the top. Once you’re up there you’ll have it all to yourself. The trail won’t take you to the summit of Sheep Mountain but pretty close and a short side trip up there will give you a great view down the Laramie River Valley and of the Snowy Range.
What’s your favorite trails for solitude in the Snowy Range?