Great Hikes: Medicine Bow Peak
We are always looking for fun mountain hikes during the hot summer months that allow for escaping the heat of the Front Range while exploring the high peaks in the Rockies and getting a great view of the surrounding countryside. Colorado has a no shortage of great mountain hikes, as one would expect. But most of them are, frankly, a lot of work.
Many of the hikes to the tops of peaks in Colorado involve walking for five to eight miles through monocultural and monotonous limber pine forests before reaching the celebrated tree line where the real fun actually begins. If you have hiked up Longs Peak (even just to Chasm Lake) you know how long you have to hike through the forest to get to the pretty areas.
We found one hike that skips past the boring parts of a lot of these ascents and gets right to the good stuff. Medicine Bow Peak in the Snowy Range near Laramie, Wyoming, offers such easy access.
Medicine Bow Peak is a 12,013 foot mountain that is the highest point in the Snowy (Medicine Bow) Range. It’s a rugged mountain that stands above a stunning landscape of frozen alpine lakes and lush meadows scattered across the summit of this lovely mountain range.
The hike to the top of the peak begins not far off of Wyoming Hwy 130, an easy cruise for a non-4wd enhanced sedan. Look for the Libby Lake sign about 40 miles west of Laramie. Continue down this dirt road to the Lewis Lake area – this is where the actual trailhead is. The summit of the peak is only 2 miles from the trailhead!
The entirely-above-tree-line trail to the peak winds around several ponds before climbing up to a saddle between the two lakes below the peak. It then switchbacks its way up the summit ridge on a well-designed trail that climbs through a large talus field reaching right up to the summit.
Even this late into the year (August 1) snowfields still blocked the trail in areas. We had to hike across the snow, looking for the continuation of the trail on the far side.
Once on the summit ridge, it’s an easy hike to the highest point of the peak. The summit is marked by an arrangement of rock slabs creating a large cairn of sorts. From this spot, long views are available. We were able to see into Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado as well as far up the Laramie Range to close to Casper, Wyoming.
Due to all the late-melting snowfields, we found an abundance of mosquitoes. They weren’t a problem as long as we kept moving, but they would swarm whenever we stopped. Oddly, they were present even on the summit. I guess that’s what we get for having a beautiful, sunny, and calm day to enjoy.
Check out the Snowy Range sometime whenever you get tired of the crowds on Mt Audubon and Grays & Torreys Peaks. I’m sure you’ll gain a newfound respect for Wyoming and it’s lack of 14er checklist fanatics.
Check out the SummitPost page on Medicine Bow Peak for more detailed information.