10 Family-Friendly Hikes in Wyoming
Wyoming’s vast outdoor spaces provide a beautiful, natural playground. And who better to explore this playground with than your family? While the Cowboy State is filled with rugged landscapes featuring epic hikes, it also has quite a few family-friendly trails where the views are just as good. Take a look at these 10 Wyoming hikes the entire family can enjoy.
1. Twin Lakes Trail – Medicine Bow National Forest
Nestled against the Snowy Mountain Range in southeast Wyoming, Medicine Bow National Forest offers miles of hiking trails for you to enjoy. Try Twin Lakes for a fun family hike. This 3.2 mile out-and-back begins at the Sheep Lake Trailhead off of Brooklyn Lake Road (forest service road 317) and follows Sheep Lake Trail for a short distance. You’ll travel through a grassy meadow and a towering forest of spruce trees along this relatively flat trail, passing a number of unnamed lakes along the way. In July Twin Lakes Trail is brimming with Wyoming wildflowers. You might even catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep, moose or mule deer.
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation gain: 165 feet
Nearest town:Centennial, Wyoming
2. Cottonwood Creek Dinosaur Trail – Alcova
Located about 30 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming, this short trail combines hiking and education for the ultimate family outing. Cottonwood Creek Dinosaur Trail features a number of fossils and other geological formations in just 0.9 miles. Interpretive signs along the trail add context to these natural features, allowing you and your kiddos to engage and learn as you hike. While you may find fossils along the way, please practice “leave no trace” principles by not taking fossils or rocks home. When you’re finished with the hike, take a dip in the nearby Alcova Reservoir. Read more about exploring the Casper area.
Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation gain: 302 feet
Nearest town: Alcova, Wyoming
3. Rainbow Terraces – Hot Springs State Park
Head to Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis to see natural hot springs and other geothermal features. The park offers a number of hikes that take you to colorful pools overflowing with steaming water. One hike that is a must for families is the 0.5 mile Rainbow Terraces hike. This path follows boardwalks adjacent to the Rainbow Terraces, which are walls that were naturally formed after years of mineral-rich spring water bubbling up from the earth and falling into the Bighorn River. Read more about exploring the Thermopolis area.
Distance: 0.5 miles
Elevation gain: 22 feet
Nearest town:Thermopolis, Wyoming
4. Observation Point Trail – Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is filled with breathtaking natural formations and sights to take in. For a short hike with a grand view, try Observation Point near Old Faithful. The trail follows switchbacks to a lookout that provides views of the turquoise and burnt orange hues of Upper Geyser Basin, which houses Old Faithful. From here you can either go back the way you came (for a hike totaling 1.5 miles) or continue on to the frequently-erupting Solitary Geyser before ending at the Geyser Hill boardwalk. The second option will make your hike just over 2 miles.
Distance: 1.5 or 2 miles
Elevation gain: 160 feet
Nearest town:Cody, Wyoming
5. Mouth of the Canyon Trail – Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Located in north-central Wyoming, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area features breathtaking scenery shared by both Wyoming and Montana. For a family-friendly Wyoming hike, try Mouth of the Canyon Trail. This trail is located near Horseshoe Bend Campground and follows trail markers along the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range boundary fence. When you reach the end of the trail, you’ll get a glimpse of where Crooked Creek and the mouth of Bighorn Canyon meet. You might even see wild horses grazing below. Be sure to visit the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center in Lovell, Wyoming before leaving the area to learn about wild horses in this part of the state. You can also head to nearby Bighorn Lake for swimming or boating fun.
Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation gain: 213 feet
Nearest town:Lovell, Wyoming
6. Tower Trail – Devils Tower National Monument
Travel to Wyoming’s northeast corner to experience the other-wordly Devils Tower National Monument. Hike the 1.3-mile Tower Trail for a chance to walk around the base of this giant rock formation. This popular hike starts across the road from the Visitor Center, climbing a steep section before meandering through a ponderosa pine forest near the tower. Interpretive signs offer the opportunity to learn more about Devils Tower along the hike. Please note that this area is very significant to Native Americans, and you will see prayer cloths tied to nearby trees. Do not touch or remove these cloths as you explore the area.
Distance: 1.3 miles
Elevation gain: 110 feet
Nearest town:Gillette, Wyoming
7. Lakeshore Trail – Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is a hiker’s dream, with nearly 20 hiking trails weaving throughout the park’s jagged peaks and calm, alpine lakes. Hike Lakeshore Trail for a relatively easy path that ends with gorgeous views. This trail begins near Colter Bay Visitor Center, traveling along a paved path that quickly turns into a dirt trail. The 2-mile loop trail travels through a conifer forest, offering a backdrop of the northern Teton mountain range as you look over Jackson Lake. This area is home to bear, elk, moose, mule deer, sandhill cranes river otters and other water-dwelling wildlife.
Distance: 2.0 miles
Elevation gain: 100 feet
Nearest town:Jackson, Wyoming
8. Popo Agie Falls – Sinks Canyon State Park
Located at the southern base of the Wind River Mountains, Sinks Canyon State Park offers pristine scenery featuring a canyon,the Popo Agie River, aspen meadows, conifer forests and diverse wildlife. The area’s most popular hike is Popo Agie (pronounced puh-po shu) Falls, where hikers can see a series of cascading waterfalls. At 3 miles round-trip, the hike is short but climbs over 660 feet in elevation. Take your time if traveling with youngsters. The whole family will be rewarded with views of waterfalls, mountains and the canyon.
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation gain: 660 feet
Nearest town:Lander, Wyoming
9. Periodic Spring Trail – Afton
Also known as Intermittent Spring, Periodic Spring is a natural phenomenon located in west-central Wyoming within the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The flow of this spring completely stops for minutes at a time, which is likely caused by underground siphoning, something so rare that it has only been seen in a few areas around the world. Take the family for a hike to this natural mystery by exploring the Periodic Spring Trail. The path follows a creek before continuing on to the stream, where every 20 minutes you will notice a decrease and stop in water flow, followed by the sudden continuation of the stream. This natural wonder is most noticeable during the late summer months.
Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation gain: 209 feet
Nearest town:Afton, Wyoming
10. White Mountain Petroglyphs – Rock Springs
Located in southwest Wyoming, White Mountain is part of the Green River Formation, which took shape over 30 million years ago. The White Mountain Petroglyphs were created 1,000 – 200 years ago by the area’s earliest-known human inhabitants. To see these ancient sandstone carvings, take the family down Wyoming’s unpaved County Road 4-17 for about 15 miles before reaching a parking lot and continuing along a trail for about 0.25 miles. A high clearance vehicle is recommended, as the roads to get to this area can be rough and cell phone service is limited. Once you reach the petroglyphs, remember to treat them with respect by looking but not touching.
Distance: 0.5 miles
Elevation gain: 20 feet
Nearest town:Rock Springs, Wyoming
To learn more about hiking in Wyoming, visit www.travelwyoming.com.
Published at Thu, 12 Apr 2018 22:17:28 +0000