Distance: 5 miles roundtrip. Duration: half day. Perfect alpine lake views, with no other people. Tough 4. WD road to get up to the trailhead - truck up with a Polaris if you have one.

When most people come to Medicine Bow National Forest, they usually do one of two hikes: the Lakes Trail or the Peak. Yes, both are spectacular. But break out your topo map to discover some of Medicine Bow's hidden gems, like Heart Lake.

The first adventure of this hike is getting there. From Highway 130, turn on to FR 103. You'll follow a dirt road for about 2 miles, then the road gets super hairy. You can either brave it (only do so if you have 4WD vehicle that can handle it), hike it (beware, though, of ATV traffic) or ATV it (fun, but requires you to take a trailer). Whichever method you choose, you'll eventually get to Dipper Lake (about one and a half miles) at which point the trail really begins. Dipper Lake is awesome on its own...but it keeps getting better from there!

From Dipper Lake, you'll hop on Heart Lake Trail, which will be to your left. It's only about a mile to Heart Lake. Take your time as you'll pass other smaller lakes on your way. You'll hike through both forest and meadow terrain.

Heart Lake is trout heaven. This hike can be just a hike, but if you own a fly rod, bring it and have some fun. Because this isn't the most-hiked trail in Medicine Bow, the fish bite like crazy. You'll find browns and brooks.

Bonus points if you spy a moose. I did, and I nearly peed my pants. A big bull ran past us as we were doing a little exploring off-trail. Also, don't take a nap at the lake but forget to put sunscreen on your legs. I looked like a lobster for a few days afterwards.

Pack List

  • Fly rod
  • Flies
  • Fly repair kit
  • Delicious snacks (I brought sour gummy worms, GoLean Crunch, and cookie butter)
  • Water and/or water treatment tablets (there's lot of lakes and streams to get water)
  • Rain pants/jacket
  • 4WD Vehicle or Polaris Ranger/Razr
  • Camera
  • Topo map (important as trail isn't super well-marked)
  • Crazy Creek for chillin hard once you get to the main lake (Heart Lake)
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Activities Fishing, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer, Autumn
Features
Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

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