• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    12 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    500 Feet

Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake
River
Romantic
Scenic

This is a mellow hike from Trailhead, wilderness camping, epic scenery with lots of day hikes from the lake. There are alpine lakes, with glorious photography, fishing and world class rock climbing.

Big Sandy Lake is beautiful.

You'll turn at Boulder, WY and head about an hour to Big Sandy Campground. You'll want to get there as early as you can as it fills up fast, when we arrived at about 10:30pm on a Friday there was no sites or parking, but don't worry. The surrounding area is National Forest and you are permitted to camp anywhere you are able to set up, we chose a field about 5 minutes from the campground near the junction to the Big Sandy Lodge.

The trail to Big Sandy Lake is about 6 miles with only around 500 feet of elevation gain, and its a beautiful hike. You'll follow Big Sandy River the entire way so with a water filter system, there's no need to pack in heavy water bottles or jugs. Keep and eye out for pack horses on the trail and some great photography opportunities.

It took us about 3 hours to hike in with full packs, but we were also a group of 4 photographers so we stopped for photos a number of times.

Once you reach the lake there is a Y in the trail, we headed to the right and found a wooded area with a number of open, flat spaces for large camps and even a few ''fireplace rocks'' that will reflect a ton of fire heat. There's a stream that runs from Big Sandy Lake down to a smaller lake that we couldnt find a name for on any map, that feeds into the river you followed all the way in. We did see people setting up camp across this stream, but we didnt explore there too much. We headed down to the smaller lake and found a secluded area near the water to set up.

From camp there are a number of hiking destinations close by. Between Cirque of the Towers and Deep Lake, within 3 miles of camp, plus numerous other trails and destinations you could spend day after day seeing new areas.

This truly was one of the most incredible places I've ever been and I am really looking forward to getting back here some day and exploring even further.

Pack List

  • Backpacking Backpack
  • Tent
  • Water Filter System
  • Freeze Dried Food
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Bag Liner (can get very cold at night in the fall without low temp rated bags)
  • Bear Spray
  • Camping Saw/Ax
  • Headlamp
  • Bear Can/Cord to hang food at night
  • Hiking Boots
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Camera/DSRL/GoPro
  • CrazyCreek
  • Hammock
  • Doggie Packpack
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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

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Cole Buckhart

Born & raised in San Francisco, CA. Graphic Designer & Photographer, currently based out of Jackson, Wyoming.

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