Backpack to Elbow Lake in the Wind River Range

Rate this Adventure Wyoming Elkhart Park Trailhead

Added by Paul Bourdon

  • This is a 27-mile roundtrip backpacking trip
  • Have a chance to explore the often secluded Wind River Range
  • Fish for trout at Elbow Lake
  • Be prepared for black bears and remember your bear canister
  • Duration: 4 Days

Elkhart Park Trailhead; Wind River Range, WY. Pole Creek Trail->Seneca Lake Trail->Highline Trail->Elbow Lake

This is an advanced 4 day out and back trip departing from the Elkhart Park Trailhead with two days of travel to Elbow Lake.

As one of the most remote ranges in the country, the Wind Rivers hold a lifetime of potential exploration and seclusion. This is truly wild country far removed from anything and its rugged beauty will leave an indelible mark on your memory. Elbow Lake is also known for its population of Golden Trout.

This is a backpacking trip that should be reserved for those who are familiar with leave no trace camping practices, bear safety, and comfortable with deep wilderness insertions. Renting or bringing your own bear canister is mandatory as black bear are common. It should also be noted that the range does hold a notable Grizzly Bear population on the eastern side of continental divide. Day 1 will start with an 8-mile day with a gentle 1200ft elevation gain from the Elkhart park trailhead situated at 9,280ft 15miles northeast of Pinedale. Start on the Pole Creek trail eventually linking up with the Seneca Lake trail which will lead to its name sake. Set up camp at Seneca Lake take in the views, see if the fish are biting, and hope that the sky erupts in Alpenglow.

Day2 is a 5.5-mile day to Elbow Lake via the Highline trail where summer snowfields can impede your progress so allow for extra travel time. Once at Elbow Lake, set up camp and see if you can hook into a rare golden trout. If the fish are being fickle, sit back and soak in the incredible views of the surrounding basin.

Day 3 you’ll begin your return leg again stopping at Seneca Lake.

Day 4 is your last and that long 8-mile walk out will allow you to reflect on the amazing sites and experiences you’ve had while visiting the Winds. Wilderness Permits are required as portions of the trip cross into designated wilderness areas.

You’ll be hungry for a great meal after this trip. The Wind River Brewing Company in Pinedale serves up great burgers and delicious cold beers that will dull any aches and pains incurred along the way.

Pack List

  • Wilderness Permit
  • Bear spray is highly recommended and a bear canister is required
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Camp stove
  • Headlamp
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Fishing

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



27 Miles



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Added by Paul Bourdon

Snowboarder, Adventurer, Earth Scientist, Teacher, Photographer, Jack of all trades

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