Medicine Bow Peak
Place Name: Snowy Range
Place Description: State: Wyoming
Elevation: 12,013 Feet
Prominence: 3,233 Feet
Elevation Gain: 1,409 Feet
Lists: Wyoming County High Points, Wyoming P2K
Bang For Your Buck
The Snowy Range of southern Wyoming is a small and gorgeous mountain range with Medicine Bow Peak rising above 12,000 feet at the highest point. The highway gets you high up and leaves just a short amount of easy trail to enjoy this amazing high mountain.
- So many lakes
- Easy trail
- Can drive up over 10K
- Can get crowded
- Only open a few months per year
- It’s too pretty
Small but mighty. That’s one way to describe the Snowy Range of Southern Wyoming. This beautiful range is dotted with lakes and rises above 12,000 feet at the summit of Medicine Bow Peak.
Thanks to a highway that gets you into the high country, Medicine Bow Peak is one of the easier hikes to bag a 12,000 foot summit with amazing views.
The drive to Medicine Bow Peak is easy and scenic. Coming from the west, Saratoga, WY is your gateway. From the east it would be Centennial, WY. Both of these towns lie south of Interstate 80 which the majority of the people use to cross southern Wyoming.
Taking Highway 130 south from eastbound 80 towards Saratoga is the easiest way. After Saratoga, the road will carry you up and over the range well over 10,000 feet in elevation. After passing beautiful Marie Lake, take the turnoff towards Sugarloaf Campground and Libby Lake. That is where the shortest trailhead to the summit starts.
Medicine Bow Peak’s trail starts at 10,780 feet between the shores if Libby Lake and Lewis Lake. There are toilets and ample parking here.
The first thing you will notice is the trailhead sign states that Medicine Bow Peak is 5 miles away. This is very wrong. The entire hike checks in about 4 miles roundtrip.
Although the trail is mostly flat as it passes between the lakes, it is quite beautiful. Wildflowers abound and the rocky summit sits just out of reach. Sugarloaf Mountain is also right next to the trail and would make for a great detour.
After you pass Sugarloaf, the trail starts to switchback up through the talus on the southern flanks of Medicine Bow Peak. This section is never very steep, nor is the entire hike. The entire gain for this trip is only around 1,400 feet. Gotta love those high start elevations!
After switchbacking and enjoying the views of at least a dozen lakes, the upper ridge is obtained. We found snow here covering the trail, however, it was easy enough to go around on large stable talus all the way to the summit.
As expected, the views from the summit are quite nice. You can see for 100 miles easily all the way into Rocky Mountain National Park’s large peaks to the south. To the north we could see Elk Mountain and Laramie Peak. The lakes all around Medicine Bow Peak seem countless and they are all full of trout.
From here, we continued past the summit for about 3/10 of a mile to tag the high point of Carbon County which is labeled as Medicine Bow Peak – West Ridge. This area is marked with a cairn and a stick. Two county high points in one hike!
The Final Word
As noted throughout this report, Medicine Bow Peak and the Snowy Range are an absolute treasure. The hike is very easy and would be suitable for children. It’s also a great acclimatization hike to get up over 12,000 feet if you haven’t spent time at elevation. This is a great introduction into peak bagging!
The summit can also be hiked from Lake Marie and made into a nice loop hike. That looked like a fun way to go as well, albeit longer.
If you are into trout fishing, the lakes are all loaded with trout and many different species, including grayling and splake trout. This was my third time in the area and I absolutely love it. There is so much more to explore here.