Best Hiking Trails in the Laramie Area – Our Top 4
Dust off your hiking boots because spring is here! One of the greatest aspects of living in Wyoming is the acres of public lands throughout the state. Due to this, there are a variety of hiking trails that need exploring. While the below information is far from comprehensive, it provides a great starting place to plan a day hike or two. Feel free to leave comments or recommend other trails in the area!
Poudre Canyon lies an hour south of Laramie on Colorado 14 off Highway 287. Poudre Canyon provides a variety of trails, all of which are well marked and maintained. Maps can be picked up at the information kiosk at the beginning of the canyon. Parking is free at all of the trailheads, and bathrooms are provided at the Grey Rocks trail and the campsites. There is no running water at any of the trails. While there are a variety of trails in Poudre, the most popular trail is Grey Rocks. Grey Rocks is a steep trail, so be prepared to handle the 1,900 foot elevation gain. However, the views at the top of Grey Rock make the hike worth it. From the top of Grey Rocks—which is literary a large outcropping of gray rocks—you have excellent views of the Rawah mountains. There are two ways to get to the top of Grey Rock, via the Grey Rock Summit trail (2.8 miles) or the Meadows trail (3.8 miles). The two trails begin together, then split and form a loop that reconnects at the bottom of Grey Rocks. From the bottom, you have a steep, .75 mile climb up to the summit of Grey Rock. Make sure you follow the cairns along the final stretch of the trail, as it becomes ambiguous. Many hikers like to take the Summit Trail to the top of Grey Rocks and hike the more mellow, but longer, Meadow trail down. In addition to the Grey Rock trail, Poudre Canyon has variety of other trails. These trails are significantly less populated than Grey Rocks, so if you want some peace and solitude, take a different trail. Several of the trails follow gulches up the canyon and allow hikers to walk as far as they like before turning around. These trails include Hewlett Gulch (3 miles, 640 foot elevation gain), Young’s Gulch (4 miles, 1,160 foot elevation gain), Dadd Gulch (3 miles, 1,400 foot elevation gain), and Mineral Springs Gulch (4 miles, 300 foot elevation gain). Hewlett and Young’s Gulch are on the eastern side of the canyon, reducing driving time. All trail heads are clearly marked by signs off Highway 14. Other great trails include Mount McConnel (2.5 miles, 1,200 foot elevation gain), Roaring Creek (5 miles, 2,300 foot elevation gain), and Blue Lake (5 miles, 1,320 foot elevation gain).
If you would like more relaxed hiking than can be found in Poudre Canyon, the trails at Red Feather Lakes provide a great alternative. These trails can be found south of Laramie off Highway 287 on 74E. There are two main hiking trails at Red Feather Lakes: Mt. Margaret and Molly Lake Trails. The Mt. Margaret trail weaves through rolling meadows, aspen groves, and a creek. The trail begins off Red Feather Lakes Road, 22 miles west of Livermore, Colorado on 74E. This is a fairly level trail that follows an old road bed for the majority of its length. The trail ends on a ridge that looks over the North Lone Pine Creek drainage area. The trail is 3.9 miles one way, but hikers do not need to complete the dead head if they do not want too. There is only a 293 foot elevation gain on the trail. The Molly Lake is another easy, but enjoyable hike in the Red Feathers Lake area. There are two entrances to the trail. The western entrance to the trail begins on Manhattan Road (Country Road 162). To get to Manhattan Road, take Highway 287 south to Livermore and Highway 74E. Take 74E for 27 miles to Country Road 162. Turn left, and travel 2.3 miles to the trailhead. Molly Lake Trail is 5 miles long, if you enter on the west end and hike to the east end. However, if you want to see Molly Lake itself, you need to take head north off the main trail at the trailhead. Molly Lake is one mile from the trailhead. The eastern entrance on Red Feather Lakes Road before you enter town.
The Snowy Mountains provide easy access to a variety of mountain hiking. Maps of the Snowies can be found at the Laramie Ranger Station or the Albany Country Tourism Bureau. Like Poudre Canyon, the Snowies also have an overwhelmingly popular hike: Medicine Bow Peak. There are two ways to summit this 12, 013 foot peak. One entrance is at the Lake Marie parking lot on Highway 130, 14 miles past Centennial. From Lake Marie, it is a 7.4 hike to the summit of Medicine Bow. Most of the elevation gain comes through rocky switchbacks until the ridge. From the ridge, it is a gradual elevation to the summit. For a shorter hike, you can summit Medicine Bow peak from the trailhead at the Sugarloaf Recreation area parking lot. Sugarloaf recreation parking lot is on Highway 130, about 11 miles west of Centennial. In addition to Medicine Bow Peak, there are also other great trials in the Snowies. The main trailheads in the upper Snowies include the Lewis Lake Trailhead, Lake Marie Trailhead, and Silver Lake Trailhead. From these main trailheads you can access a variety of trails that weave around the base and over the Snowy Peaks. The North Gap Trails departs from the Sugarloaf Recreation Area parking lot, and follows a gentle grade past several mountain lakes to the gap in the Snowy Range. Hikers can continue past the gap, if they are interested in backpacking or extending their hiking trip. From the North Gap Trail, hikers can also get on Lost Lake Trail, which takes hikers past some great mountain Lakes. The lower Snow Range Trailheads include the Corner Mountain Trailhead, the Little Laramie Trailhead, and the Green Rock Trailhead. All trailheads are located on Highway 130, 3, 5, and 9 miles outside of Centennial respectively. Off these trailheads are a total of 9 different trails, which are mainly loops.
Only 10 miles from Laramie, the Vedauwoo and Happy Jack Trails provide a great opportunity to get out and take a quick hike. To get to Happy Jack area, take I-80 east for 9.5 miles to Highway 210. Take a left off the exit and cross the bridge, and then another left to go to Tie City Trailhead and Happy Jack Trailheads or right to go to the Summit Trailhead. From these trailheads, a variety of trails branch out and connect, making it possible to walk from one trailhead to another. One of the most popular trails in this area is the Summit Trail, which leads to some great views at the top of Pole Mountain. With the exception of the Summit Trail, many of the trails in this area stay in the woods, making them great options for hiking if the weather is windy. Maps of the area (as well as the Vedauwoo area) can be found at the Laramie Ranger District, as well as the Albany County Tourism Board. If you continue down I-80 a few more miles and exit on Vedauwoo Road, you can access a variety of other great trails. One of the most popular and accessible is the Box Canyon Trail, which is paved. Another popular trail in the area is the Turtle Rock Trail, which surrounds the main rock formation in Vedauwoo. The trail is about three miles long, and can often become wet due to ponds and streams on the western side. However, the water also makes this one of the greenest trails in the area, especially in the spring.