Day Hiking Stough Creek Pass

Wind River Peak from Stough Creek Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Wind River Peak from Stough Creek Pass

Stough Creek Pass, in the far south of the Wind River Range of Wyoming, is only known because it’s en route to the more famous Stough Creek Lake Basin.  But the pass is certainly beautiful enough to be a destination unto its own: From this high point of the trail, Wind River Peak takes center stage, rising majestically over the peaceful basin below.  It also happens to be (what I’d consider) one of the easier trails to dayhike in the Wind Rivers, and you can always scramble up Roaring Fork Mountain if you want to extend the trail a bit (and improve the view).  As it is, it’s 9.1 miles RT to the pass with reasonable elevation gain and rewarding views.  Need I say more?

 

 

Views through the trees at the western end of Stough Creek Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Views through the trees at the western end of the pass

We made the mistake of following our GPS to the trailhead – Louis Lake Road just west of South Pass City (mile upon mile of narrow, bumpy, twisting dirt roads) – instead of coming in from Lander (mostly a good, paved road).  Still, we got to the trailhead in time to bunk down for the night, then made an early start in the morning.  The trailhead is near the Worthen Meadow Reservoir, and there’s a nice campground and picnic area.  I won’t say that after the heat of the hike we didn’t enjoy a quick dip in the very chilly reservoir 🙂

 

Roaring Fork Lake outlet, Stough Creek Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Roaring Fork Lake outlet

At any rate, the trail begins from the Worthington Meadows Reservoir trailhead (be sure to take the Stough Creek Basin Trailhead (uphill) not the Sheeps Bridge Trailhead (downhill near the restrooms and trailhead parking)).  It immediately begins a slow ascent through the trees along what is obviously an old 4×4 road (no longer in use).  Enter the Popo Agie Wilderness at 0.7 miles, then come to Roaring Fork Lake at 0.8 miles.  As soon as the lake comes into view, turn right down to an unmarked stream crossing at the outlet of the lake.  Cross here.  The crossing wasn’t bad at all, except for being a bit cold (and a little rough on us tender-toes!).  In mid-August, it was only halfway up to my knees and nowhere near as cold as most mountain lakes!  And a 7am, that was really appreciated!

 

What the crossing of Roaring Fork River looks like at 7:30am on the Stough Creek Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

What the crossing looks like at 7:30am

Technically, you could also walk downstream for about 0.25 miles to a beaver dam-like set of sticks over the stream and cross here, then come back upriver to the trail.

 

What the crossing of Roaring Fork River looks like coming back at 3pm on the Stough Creek Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

What the crossing looks like coming back at 3pm

 

 

On the other side of the river, the trail begins to climb in earnest, but soon flattens out again.  The trail was obviously made for horses, with bridges over the small streams and a long boardwalk at 2.1 miles.  The trail is also gains elevation fairly slowly, making it much easier than the Teton hikes, where the trails seem to take pleasure in going straight up for miles on end!  There was also plenty of evidence of horses, and we did meet a couple horse-parties along the way.

Boardwalk through the meadow on the Stough Creek Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Boardwalk through the meadow

Finally, at 4.5 miles, the trail suddenly enters a meadow in the Stough Creek Saddle.  All I could say when I entered it was, “Wow!!!”  There has been almost no view up to this point, and suddenly, right ahead in all its splendor, is Wind River Peak.  The view from here is totally spectacular, so it makes a good turn around point if you like trails or simply don’t want to go further.

The trail through Stough Creek Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming

The trail through the pass

But of course, being me, I did want to go further – up Roaring Fork Mountain.

Resting in Stough Creek Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Resting in the pass

But that’s a post unto itself – so hang in there until next week!

More views from Stough Creek Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming

More views from the pass

Round Trip Length: 9.2 miles

Lowest Elevation (trailhead): 8,822 ft.

Highest Elevation (pass): 10,540 ft.

Net Elevation Change: 1,718 ft.

Facilities: Horse corral / hitching post and restroom at trailhead; water available in the picnic area, a short distance up the road.  A campground is also located nearby.

Fees: None

Trail Notes: I found this trail quite a bit less demanding than most other hikes I did in Wyoming, including Table Mountain and the Alaska Basin Overlook in the Tetons and some of the trails surrounding the Green River Lakes and Cirque of Towers (but maybe length had something to do with the difficulty of the latter two?)

More meadow views along the Stough Creek Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

More meadow views

Trail ★★★☆☆

Road ★★★☆☆

Signs ★★★☆☆

Scenery ★★★★☆

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

The trail below Stough Creek Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming

The trail below the pass

Key GPS Coordinates for Stough Creek Pass

Trail Beginning: 42.69980N / -108.93205W (42° 41′ 59.28″ / -108° 55′ 55.38″) (8,822ft.) (0.0 – ended 10.4)

Enter Popo Agie Wilderness: 42.69980N / -108.93205W (42° 41′ 59.28″ / -108° 55′ 55.38″) (9,001ft.) (0.77)

Turn Right toward stream crossing: 42.69423N / -108.93934W (42° 41′ 39.2274″ / -108° 56′ 21.624″) (9,002ft.) (0.8)

Sream Crossing: 42.69413N / -108.94070W (42° 41′ 38.868″ / -108° 56′ 26.52″) (9,054ft.) (0.9)

Long Bridge: 42.69101N / -108.95544W (42° 41′ 27.6354″ / -108° 57′ 19.5834″) (9,422ft.) (2.1)

Stough Pass: 42.68982N / -108.98559W (42° 41′ 23.3514″ / -108° 59′ 8.124″) (10,540ft.) (4.6)

Roaring Fork Lake, Stough Creek Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Roaring Fork Lake

The gpx file for Stough Creek Pass and Roaring Fork Mountain 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.

Download File size: 302.8 KB Downloaded 18 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!)

More meadow views from the Stough Creek Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

More meadow views

Getting to the Stough Creek Pass Trailhead

From Lander, WY, head south on WY-131 for about 9 or 10 miles.  Continue straight onto Louis Lake Road for an additional 7.2 miles.  About the time the pavement ends, turn right onto Forest Road 302 and drive 2 miles to the Worthen Meadow Reservoir.  Continue about another 0.5 miles to the end of the road and the trailhead.  The trail itself begins near the sign just about where the road meets the parking lot and is signed for Stough Creek Basin (don’t confuse this one with the other trail(s) that leave the parking area near the restroom).

Views from along the Stough Creek Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Views from along the trail

It is possible to come up Louis Lake Road beginning just east of South Pass City, but I don’t recommend this route (very dusty, bumpy, and twisting – honest, it’s faster to go through Lander).

Visual trail map of the hike up to Stough Creek Pass and then up Roaring Fork Mountain, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Visual trail map of the hike up to Stough Creek Pass and then up Roaring Fork Mountain. Note that north is not up.

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