ISLAND LAKE, WY
Squeeze the last of summer on an epic backpacking trip in the Wind River Range, where a menu of peaks, lakes, and cirques awaits.
There’s a reason hikers tend to talk about the Wind River Range in hushed tones. Between its pinnacled peaks, high-rise cirques, and turquoise lakes, you just won’t find that many people. That doesn’t mean they don’t know about it, though. Isolation, long approaches, and lack of national park status are the area’s best protectors, keeping it solidly on most backpackers’ life lists—rather than in their photo albums. Change that this September by staging a multiday epic into the granite wonderland when the weather is relatively mild and the wilderness’s notorious ’skeeters have abated.
The best way in is via Island Lake (pictured), itself a rough, 12-mile haul from Elkhart Park. From there, you’re right at the fanged mouth of Titcomb Basin, in the heart of the Winds. Link the Pole Creek, Seneca Lake, and Indian Pass Trails to get to the 140-acre tarn, then pitch your tent on an established spot on the southwestern shore of the pool, where tentdoor views frame 13,745-foot Fremont Peak (background) and the crest of the Winds. Next day, you could turn around after a perfectly acceptable introduction to the range, but we recommend exploring the Titcomb Basin Trail, which leads some 4 miles from camp into a glacier-bulldozed cirque of granite massifs that’s sure to leave you speechless. PERMIT None CONTACT www.fs.usda.gov/btnf