OverviewThe Elkhart Park Trailhead provides access to the west central portion of the Wind River Range, which includes the 428,169 acre Bridger Wilderness. It is the main TH into one of the most popular destinations in the Range, Titcomb Basin. It's also one of the highest Wind River THs at 9,350.
Two trails lead into the wilderness from the TH-the Pole Creek Trail, which leads to the Seneca Lake, Highline, Indian, Titcomb Basin, Miller Creek and Sweeney Creek Trails and, the rigorous Pine Creek Canyon Trail, which heads north, eventually joining the Highline Trail at Summit Lake, just below Green River Pass.
The Trailhead consists of two large parking lots (north lot for Pine Creek trail, south lot for Pole Creek), toilets and unloading facilities for livestock. Drinking water is available during the summer season.
Pinedale is the closest and biggest town in the area.
Pinedale is located:
77 miles SSE of Jackson, Wyoming
103 miles N of Rock Springs, Wyoming
From Hwy 191 (Pine Street), in Pinedale, follow the Fremont Lake/Half Moon Lake road northeast out of town. After 3 miles, a left fork leads to Fremont Lake, bear right to continue on toward Elkhart Park on what is also known as Skyline Drive, passing more turnoffs leading to Halfmoon Lake and the White Pine Ski area. The road narrows, gets a little steeper and windy before passing a scenic viewpoint of some of the high peaks in the range. A short distance from the viewpoint, the road forks with the left fork leading to the Trail's End Campground/Pine Creek Canyon TH, the right fork to the Pole Creek Trail's parking lot.
PinedaleThe town of Pinedale serves as the focal point for wilderness travelers bound for the western side of the Wind River Range. Perched at 7,175 feet, on the western flank of the range, Pinedale is the county seat for Sublette County and the largest town (pop. approx 1,500 (2,030 in 2010)) between Rock Springs and Jackson. In recent years Pinedale has become an energy boomtown owing to the large natural gas field, known as the Jonah Field, which is located nearby.
It's the last place to get supplies on the way in-and the first place to have a cold beer on the way out. For info on lodging and dining check the Pinedale link below.
Some links for the area:
pinedaleonline.com Much info on the town and the area-from current fuel prices to webcams
Bridger-Teton National Forest
Sublette County info
Weather and related information:
Wyoming Road Conditions/Hwy Web Cams
DestinationsMany great places to go from this trailhead. Here's a few, with distances attached.
Via the Pine Creek Trail:
Long Lake-2.3 miles with a 1,400 foot elevation loss
Via the Pole Creek Trail:
Bridger Wilderness Boundary-2.8 miles
Miller/Sweeney Lake Junction-3.3 miles
Photographers Point Overlook-4.5 miles
Seneca Lake Trail Junction-5.3 miles
Mary's Lake-6.1 miles
Pole Creek Lakes-8.8 miles
Cook Lakes-10.4 miles
Via the Pole Ck/Seneca Lake Trail:
Seneca Lake-8.5 miles
Highline Trail Junction-10.4 miles
Island Lake-11.7 miles
Via the Pole Ck/Seneca Lk/Indian Basin/Titcomb Basin Tr:
Upper Titcomb Lake-15.3 miles
Gannett Peak via Dinwoody Pass-21 miles
Fremont Peak via Indian Basin-15 miles
Links for mountain pages accessible from the Elkhart Park TH
Mount Woodrow Wilson
Red TapeThe only permits required at this time are for organized groups and campers with pack or saddle stock. An early arrival would be a plus as the parking lots fill often in the summer season. The TH is located in the Pinedale Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Bridger Wilderness Regulations
Camping options in the areaThere are many campgrounds in the Pinedale Ranger District, click here for a listing.
Camping is available at the Trail's End Campground, at the end of the road, near the TH. Finding an open campsite at this 8 site campground can be a challange. There are also several undeveloped camping areas along the road that leads to the TH.
Guidebooks/MapsWind River Trails by Finis Mitchell Wasatch Publishers,INC. an old school trails/fishing guide by Mr. Wind River himself
Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains by Joe Kelsey Chockstone Press SummitPost Gear Review
Wyoming's Wind River Range by Joe Kelsey American Geographic Publishing an overview of the range with many great photos
Hiking Wyoming's Wind River Range by Ron Adkison Falcon Press a fairly detailed trail guide with a smattering of climbing and fishing info
Walking the Winds by Rebecca Woods White Willow Publishing a hiking guide with some fishing info
Wind River Hiking Map and Guide Earth Walk Press SummitPost Gear Review
Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone by Thomas Turiano (2003) Indomitus Books, Jackson, WY. SummitPost Gear Review
Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming by Nancy Pallister Gray Dog Press Summit Post Gear Review
SafetyWith bridges being few and far between, stream crossings are a big concern in Winds. Depending on the route you’re taking, crossings can be numerous and time consuming, at the least. Depending on the time of year and the snowpack- they can be a major and sometimes dangerous obstacle.
Glacier travel is another challenge to Wind River hikers. With 7 of the 10 largest glaciers in the lower 48 located in the range, it can be a big issue, especially on the eastern side of the divide. If your route takes you across a glacier- be prepared for it by carrying and knowing how to use the proper equipment.
Solo travel can be very unforgiving as this article from Backpacker Magazine illustrates.
The Mike Turner Story
Another hazard to be aware of when hiking or camping below glaciers is the Jökulhlaup or glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF). Though rare, they have been observed, as the link shows, in the Wind River Range as recently as 2003.
The closest winter access to the trailhead is at the end of the plowed road, just past the White Pine Ski Area, +-3 miles before the TH.
Some winter info available at:
White Pine Ski Area-Downhill and Nordic info