July 29-31, 2018
On my way west from Casper, Wyoming to Medford, Oregon for my next job I stopped to complete two separate hikes in western Wyoming. The first was this spectacular loop hike which is described in Douglas Lorain's book Backpacking Wyoming: From Towering Granite Peaks to Steaming Geyser Basins. The loop is 45.8 miles and includes 9300 feet of elevation gain and five passes.
The route can be shortened with a high clearance vehicle to get across several streams to the official trailhead. I parked as described in the guidebook on FR200.3 before it crosses Jojo Creek and walked the 6.9 miles to Kirwin.
View from where I parked near Jojo Creek
This is grizzly territory so I had bear spray with me.
It was a beautiful road walk. Several off road vehicles passed but it was a pleasant walk.
In some places the Wood River goes right through the road.
The road climbed up a ridge and I could see the river below.
There was some old mining equipment near the road.
dramatic rocky views
I reached the historic Kirwin townsite and a great view of Mt. Sniffel.
My hike would include just a small portion of the Washakie Wilderness.
The views were outstanding!
In some places the trail was faint.
Looking down on Kirwin
As I climbed higher, there were many flowers.
I continued the climb and Greybull Pass came into view.
I reached the top of 11,500 foot Greybull Pass and found a great view of the Greybull River canyon on the other side.
I could see a herd of elk down below.
Looking back to my backpack on Greybull Pass.
It started to rain heavily, so I quickly began the steep descent.
The elk saw me and started to run away. There were probably at least 50 of them.
Looking back up to Greybull Pass
I came to an old miner's cabin near near Yellow Creek.
The scenery was great. I passed a large group of people on horses who were going the opposite direction.
I continued along the Greybull River with dramatic views.
I reached a trail junction with the trail up Steer Creek.
Next I crossed the Greybull River.
I found a campsite near the Greybull River that was sheltered in the trees and offered a nice view.
My campsite in the trees.
I went to the river to get some water and there was nice evening light on the towering mountains above.
The forest nearby had been burned but there were colorful flowers.
The next morning I awoke to morning light on the opposite side of the river.
It was a chilly morning and I continued along the Greybull River.
I crossed the Greybull River and began following Cow Creek.
The trail climbed upward to Burwell Pass.
There was still snow in places but I didn't have to hike on much of it.
I began the short descent, knowing that I still planned for three more passes for the day.
It was a beautiful descent along a ridge.
Switchbacks visible faintly
Looking back to Burwell Pass
I began the climb up to an unnamed pass at 10,950 feet.
There were uniquely colored mountains.
The trail went through a fire burned area.
I could see a waterfall down below.
There were many different flowers.
I climbed up toward the third pass of the day.
Another colorful mountain
I reached the third pass at 11,040 feet and took a break.
The descent was across a grassy slope with trail hard to discern.
There were posts and cairns to mark the way but no trail tread.
I joined the Bear Creek Trail.
Bear Creek was silty.
I hiked past some interesting rock formations on my way up Bear Creek Pass.
Looking up to Bear Creek Pass
There was a great view from the top of the pass.
Looking back to Bear Creek Pass
I descended to the Wood River.
I found a beautiful place to camp near the Wood River.
The next morning, it was a quick hike back to Kirwin.
As I neared Kirwin, there was an interesting building.
I crossed a bridge to explore more of Kirwin.
I began the roadwalk back to my car.
I made it back to my car with time to drive to my next hike in the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
Overall, this was a spectacular loop. The scenery was some of the best that I have seen. This hike was different from others I have done in Wyoming as there weren't any lakes, but the canyons, mountains, and wildlife make this one of my most memorable hikes.