Highline Trail Along Lower Green River Lake

Evening sun on Squaretop Mountain over Lower Green River Lake along the Highline Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Evening sun on Squaretop Mountain over Lower Green River Lake along the Highline Trail

For the short-distance dayhiker, the Highline Trail probably offers some of the best day hiking in the Wind Rivers.  Views of jagged Wind River peaks and flat-topped Squaretop Mountain open up nearly from the first, and are simply lovely over Lower Green River Lake.  The Highline Trail is also the gateway to most of the hikes in the Green River Lakes region of the Wind River Range: I ended up hiking it three times on two hikes, and would have had to hike it several more times if I’d stayed longer in the area (and will hike it again when I return!)  It can also be combined with the Porcupine Pass Trail and Lakeside Trail for a circuit of Lower Green River Lake, another hike I can highly recommend.  That circuit – or hiking to the bridge between the Green River Lakes and returning the same way – is about 6.5 miles RT.  But if you’re not up to that, good views can be had only 0.3 miles from the parking area.

 

 

Ranch buildings across the Green River, Highline Trail, Green River Lakes, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Ranch buildings across the Green River

From the parking area, head down and then left on the Highline Trail (a sign points the way).  A tenth of a mile from the parking area, a trail goes off on the left to the corrals.  The sign was broken, but someone had kindly set it up again.  Just keep right and continue to descend another 0.2 miles to the bridge over the Green River Lakes outlet.  In this area, you get your first glimpses of Squaretop over Lower Green River Lake – spectacular!  I had the experience of hiking this very early on a cold, frosty morning (literally!) in August, so the mist over the lake (and ice-etched grass and leaves) was something special.

 

You can't see it, but the grass in the foreground is covered in frost! Highline Trail, Green River Lakes, Wind River Range, Wyoming

You can’t see it, but the grass in the foreground is covered in frost!

Continue alone the trail to the sign for Gunsite Pass, just beyond the bridge.  Turning left here will take you past some old buildings.  Eventually, you’ll want to go right, cross the smaller bridge, and continue down the Highline Trail.

 

Now you can see the frost! on the grass! Highline Trail, Green River Lakes, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Now you can see the frost on the grass – old buildings on the Gunsite Pass Trail

The trail rolls as it works its way along the hillside, with views over Lower Green River Lake and very often up the lake to Squaretop and other Wind River Peaks.  Wow!

 

Views along the Highline Trail over Lower Green River Lake toward Squaretop Mountain, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Views along the trail

Enter the Bridger Wilderness at 0.75 miles, then pass the trail junction for Clear Creek Canyon at 2.4 miles (this is the way you’d turn to get to the Clear Creek Natural Bridge, to search for Slide Creek Falls, hike to Slide Lake, or to hike the northeast slopes of White Rock).  Shortly after this, stay left, then cross Clear Creek via a log-bridge-with-a-handrail, staying right and straight to continue on the Highline Trail rather than turning into a campsite, onto an unmarked trail, or down to the horse ford of Clear Creek.  (Turning left here would take you to the northwest slopes of White Rock, but that’s definitely another post unto itself.)

 

Bridge across Clear Creek in the Green River Lakes area of the Wind River Range of Wyoming

Bridge across Clear Creek

At 3.3 miles from the trailhead, come to a junction with the Porcupine Pass Trail and a rather massive bridge over Green River.  Turn around here, or continue up to Upper Green River Lake, or turn right across the bridge to circuit the lake via the Lakeside Trail (post coming soon!), or take one of the side trails (like up Clear Creek Canyon), or…

 

Clouds over Lower Green River Lake, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Clouds over Lower Green River Lake

Round Trip Trail Length: About 6.5 miles

Lowest Elevation: 7,957 ft.

Highest Elevation: 8,049 ft.

Net Elevation Gain / Loss: 92 ft.

Facilities: Drinking water and primitive toilets at the trailhead.  Campground nearby.

Fees: None

 

 

The Highline Trail after Clear Creek, Green River Lakes in the Wind River Range of Wyoming

The trail after Clear Creek

Trail ★★★☆☆

Road ★★★☆☆

Signs ★★★★★

Scenery ★★★★★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

 

A baby and mother moose feed along the Highline Trail, Green River Lakes, Wind River Range, Wyoming

A baby and mother moose feed along the trail

Key GPS Coordinates for the Highline Trail

Parking: 43.31404N / -109.85827W (43° 18′ 50.5434″ / -109° 51′ 29.772″) (8,029ft.)

Trail beginning: 43.31382N / -109.85838W (43° 18′ 49.7514″ / -109° 51′ 30.1674″) (8,040ft.) (0.0 – ended saying 14.2, which is more like 15.2)

Highline Trail / Lakeside Trail Junction: 43.31371N / -109.85839W (43° 18′ 49.356″ / -109° 51′ 30.2034″) (8,049ft.) (50ft.)

Corrals Junction: 43.31450N / -109.85659W (43° 18′ 52.2″ / -109° 51′ 23.7234″) (7,981ft.) (0.12)

Morning sun and haze over Lower Green River Lake. Someday, I've got to go back when there isn't so much smoke in the air! Wind River Range, Wyoming

Morning sun and haze over Lower Green River Lake. Someday, I’ve got to go back when there isn’t so much smoke in the air!

Gunsite Pass Trail Junction: 43.31479N / -109.85379W (43° 18′ 53.244″ / -109° 51′ 13.644″) (7,957ft.) (0.3)

Enter Bridger Wilderness: 43.31009N / -109.85127W (43° 18′ 36.324″ / -109° 51′ 4.5714″) (7,982ft.) (0.75)

Clear Creek Canyon Junction: 43.29387N / -109.83237W (43° 17′ 37.9314″ / -109° 49′ 56.5314″) (8,002ft.) (2.4)

Three Forks Junction: 43.28300N / -109.83119W (43° 16′ 58.8″ / -109° 49′ 52.284″) (7,966ft.) (3.3)

 

Clear Creek Bridge, Green River Lakes, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Clear Creek Bridge

The gpx file for Green River Lake Circuit (including the Highline Trail) can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

GPX Download File size: 128.7 KB Downloaded 31 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

 

Evening on the Highline Trail, Green River Lakes, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Evening on the Highline Trail

Getting to the Highline Trail / Green River Lakes

In Pinedale, WY, head north on US-191.  After nearly 6 miles, turn right onto WY-352 for 25.3 miles.  (This turn is 5 miles south/east of where US-191 leaves US-189).  The roads are entirely gravely / dirt after this, but are fairly well-maintained and should usually be accessible for low clearance vehicles.  Continue straight onto the Green River Lakes Road for 18.5 miles.  Take a slight left to not turn into the campground, then turn left toward the parking areas instead of the boat launch.  Near the restrooms, turn right toward the hiker parking instead of the corrals.  The parking area is large, but fills up during the summer months.

 

Visual trail map of my Lower Green River Lakes Circuit. Up is south. The Highline Trail is on the left on the map and the Lakeside Trail, the right. One the elevation profile, the Lakeside Trail is to the left of the line and the Highline Trail, to the right. Green River Lakes area of the Wind River Range, Wyoming

Visual trail map of my Lower Green River Lakes Circuit. Up is south. The Highline Trail is on the left on the map and the Lakeside Trail, the right. One the elevation profile, the Lakeside Trail is to the left of the line and the Highline Trail, to the right.

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Areal Flood Warning

Issued:
12:36 PM MDT on June 26, 2017
Expires:
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