We had done it … the summit of Medicine Bow Peak with views that will make you shout “Halleluia! Thank You, Jesus! and start singing a little “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand.” This was indeed Church – at its finest hour !
I can’t say that Lisa nor I had ever heard of the Snowy Range and the Medicine Bow Mountains until living in Laramie this summer, but now we’re huge fans. So we’re passing along one more thing to add to your bucket list for all you outdoor lovers !
We hit the trail around 9:30 last Sunday morning and the day could not have been more perfect ! The ascent starts right away at the Lake Marie parking lot and every turn and from every direction are views that will wear out the term WOW from your vocabulary ! This loop (and doing it in this direction – which Lis and I both HIGHLY recommend vs. doing it the other direction) makes an approach to Medicine Bow Peak from the South side and then winds to the West side of the Mountain for quite a while before climbing again to reach a hiking section along the Ridgeline with some of the most incredible views ever. A number of times you’ll think you’re climbing the final climb to the Summit – only to discover that it’s just one more part of the mountain to crest before hiking a while more until the next climb !
The beauty of the entire trail continues to change and amaze with incredible vista views along the entire 7-8 mile trek. Once you reach the area just below the summit, the trail heads up through massive boulders. There’s really no “trail” for the final stretch to the Summit, marked only by a wooden pole and small gold medallion on the boulder under it … it’s simply huge boulders to slowly and carefully navigate at just over 12,00o ft in order to reach the summit — and then begin the same tedious hike down the other side … I must admit, I felt my not-as-steady-and-confident-sure-footed-self-at-this-age, during this Summit section of the trek ! The lower my center of gravity, the better I felt … sort of ! Of course Lisa was like a native Mountain goat up there and graciously and patiently encouraged and offered a hand when needed ! But well worth it, it was ! We had done it … the summit of Medicine Bow Peak with views that will make you shout “Halleluia! Thank You, Jesus! and start singing a little “On Christ the Sold Rock I Stand.” This was indeed Church – at its finest hour ! So much to be grateful for that we could make this trek and experience something this astoundingly beautiful with every fiber of our beings.
The trek down the Lewis Lake side of the Summit was very steep and at times a little tricky to navigate the rocks and boulders – since our legs were beginning to get a little tired at this point. This is exactly why we had not chosen to come up from this direction … not sure I could have even done it. The route we chose, was much longer, more gradual, but more diversely beautiful, so that’s why we would highly recommend the same route to others.
Once down the mountain, the trail then followed along the base of the massive sheers cliffs along a string of different lakes … Getting to see this view of the mountains where we had just trekked from a totally different viewpoint was just as striking as seeing the lakes below from 12,000 ft. edge of the Medicine Bow Mountains.
So the next time you start looking at maps and wondering where you should go … remember this spectacular (and lesser known to many people not from here) part of the Rocky Mts. in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests in Southern Wyoming called the Snowy Range. August and Sept. are great times to visit as more of the snow has melted on the trails. It took us a mere 8.5 hours to do the loop, but of course it was Sunday Church for us, so many stops were made to take it in slowly and use all of our senses to experience God in all that was surrounding us at every turn and climb. Plus, we met some other fellow hikers along the way and enjoyed sharing some of the experience with them as well !
The current Snowy Range Scenic Byway, Highway 130, was built as a wagon road in the 1870s. Fifty years later the road was widened and graded using horse-drawn equipment. The road was finally paved in the 1930s and was designated as the nation’s second Scenic Byway in 1988. Six years later, work on the road was finally completed and it became known as the “Great Skyroad”.
The Snowy Range Scenic Byway crosses the second highest mountain pass in Wyoming. The extreme elevation means that this road is only open for a short period each year. Snow usually closes the highest section of the road abut mid-November, and snowplows traditionally open the road in May, just before Memorial Day weekend. Though this byway is less than two hundred miles long, there’s lots to see along the way. And if you’re into Winter Sports, we hear that even more people (mostly local) enjoy this area during the long snowy months. I’d love to see it covered with its white winter blanket as well !