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Trip Details

Date Thursday  9/2/2021
End Date Monday  9/6/2021
Group Denver
Event Title BPX Backpack: Washakie Pass - Lizard Head – Cirque of the Towers Loop-:: Wind River Range Wyoming
Start Time 9:30 AM
Status Complete
Leader Kevin Galliers
Member Price Free
Available Participants 2
Type Trip
Trip Type Backpack
Pace Moderate
Classification Difficult C
Trail Mileage 40
Elevation Gain 7172
Driving Distance 828


Big Sandy Trailhead Boulder, WY:

We will meet at the trailhead at 9:30 AM on Thursday 09/02/2021. It is highly recommended you drive up to the area the day before. The trip leader will be staying in Pinedale on Wednesday 09/01/2021.

For more info Contact

Kevin Galliers

Phone: 571-357-2487


This route is explatory for the leader, who has done a three day variation of this trip.

Backpack Segments

Segment 1: Big Sandy Trailhead to Marms Lake

Segment 2: Marms Lake to Washakie Pass Trail Junction

--- Side Trip: Shadow Lake, Texas Lake and Texas Pass

Segment 3: Over Washakie Pass to Valentine Lake

Segment 4: Valentine Lake to Cirque of the Towers via Lizard Head Plateau

Segment 5: Cirque of the Towers to Big Sandy Trailhead via Jackass Pass 

From the Big Sandy trailhead follow the Fremont Trail as it heads north, paralleling the west side of the Continental Divide. Along the way the trail passes four beautiful lakes and offers fine views of the massive cirque at the head of the East Fork Valley.

Beyond Marms Lake follow the Pyramid Lake trail, which crosses Washakie Creek and then turns right (east) on the Washakie Pass Trail. The climb to the pass (11,611-ft.) features breathtaking views of the South Fork cirque. Atop the pass, views open east to sheer cliffs and high peaks towering above Macon and Washakie Lakes, nestled in the alpine basin below the pass.

From the pass a steep descent leads to the lakes and then drops on more moderate grades to junction on the western shore of the South Fork Little Wind River. Here the route turns right (east) on the Bear Ears trail, crosses the river and then climbs on moderate grades to the Lizard Head Plateau. Atop the plateau turn right (south/southeast) on the Lizard Head trail. Jaw-dropping views of an incredible panorama of high peaks in the southern Wind River Range slowly evolves as you traverse the tundra-clad plateau to a high point at 11,864-ft.

From the high point the trail drops on moderate and then very steep grades to Lizard Head Meadows. The path now turns west on the North Fork Trail, traveling through forest and meadows to Lonesome Lake (10,166-ft.). Here the Cirque of the Towers, an amazing spectacle of jagged peaks and spires rising over 12,000-ft., soar above the beautiful lake.

The final leg of the backpack ascends steeply to Jackass Pass (10,790-ft.), accompanied by more great views of the cirque. From the pass the very strenuous path follows a roller coaster route through rocky terrain, climbing over rock slabs and detouring around boulders and rock outcroppings along the west sides of Arrowhead and North Lakes. To the south, views unfold to the high peaks towering above the Deep and Temple Lake drainages.

After three miles, the trail drops down switchbacks to Big Sandy Lake. From the lake the Big Sandy Trail descends on easy to moderate grades back to the Big Sandy Trailhead.

This great backpack requires a minimum of 3-nights/4-days. We will plan on 4 nights and 5 days.


To register, send an email to the trip leader 

Previous multi-day backpacking experience in alpine conditions is required to register. Please mention previous backpacking trips you have taken. Include daily mileage and elevation gain for the trips. Also mention any CMC schools you have completed like backpacking school, Wilderness Trekking school, and any mountaineering classes.  You will be expected to assist with route finding and campsite selection.
Due to the significant distance and logistics of this backpack, if you have a history of late cancelling or no shows for trips, I will ask you not to register.

BPX is a community of backpackers who respect, trust, help each other, and honor our commitments. By registering for this trip, you are committing to going on the trip and will cancel only for a true emergency. And if absolutely necessary, you agree to cancel as early as possible so another member may take your place on the trip.


COVID-19 and Colorado Mountain Club Programming

Plan B: find parking as close as we can and shuttle to the TH or hike to the TH.