Backpack the Medicine Bow Peak Trail in the Snowy Range Mountains

7 miles 1679 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Grant Whitty

The Snowy Range is home to jagged peaks, panoramic ridge views, alpine lakes, wildflowers and cold temperatures. The Range is commonly used by day hikers, but rarely overnight backpackers.

Take the Snowy Range Scenic Byway to Lake Marie trail head. Lake Marie trail head is the farthest west trailhead and parking area in the immediate Snowy Range Area. 

Parking in the lot there. I went on a Friday evening and there was one vehicle there. Double check you gear and tighten your hiking boots. 

From the trail head head north east to a paved asphalt trail. This trail connects to one of the other parking areas. When you get to the second parking area you will see a cul-de-sac of picnic areas. Continue around the circle to the trail which is marked with a wooden sign. 

This is the real beginning of the trail, there is no more pavement after this point. As you ascend you will first see two large lakes to your left. Continue past those for about a mile or two. 

Soon you will come over a gradual ridge and see a few small lakes. You want the first one you see on the left, closest to the trail. There is one further down the trail that is closer to the saddle you will reach the next day, you don't want to camp there.

Walk of the trail to the left and towards the first unnamed lake. Between the trail and the lake, there are a few tiny flat spots. Look for an old fire ring made from rocks. Set up camp around here, use your judgment. Practice Leave No Trace and stay about 200- 300 feet away from the water/ trail.  

The next morning continue up the trail to saddle. When you reach the saddle, there will be a big sign for the trail. Take the trail switchbacking to the ridge above you to the north.

After the switchbacks, the trail will gradually ascend towards the summit of Medicine Bow Peak (12,014'). You will come to a quick scramble towards the top and reach the summit. 

Spend some time on the summit and then work your way back down. From here you can either go back the way you came or (what we did) continue the loop back around to the parking lot where you will park. 

The rest of the trail down from the summit goes on the north side of the ridge, which is drastically different and more mellow than the south side you just came up. After the summit it is a very easy hike down. Depending on your speed down it should take about an hour and a half to two hours to get down from the summit if you follow the loop.

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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