Peak Angeline (right) from Mirror Lake at sunrise
Located northeast of Lost Twin Lakes and just north of Darton Peak in Wyoming’s Cloud Peak Wilderness, Peak Angeline is essentially a massive rubble pile in a scenic, remote section of the wilderness. The unofficially accepted “Colorado Rule” of 300’ prominence makes this a separate peak, not a subpeak of Darton. As the USGS Lake Angeline quad does not give a specific elevation for the mountain (strangely, it does so for the peak’s lower eastern summit), 12,100’ is an estimated elevation based on splitting the difference between the 12,080’ and 12,120’ contours between which the summit lies.
This mountain is not among the most striking of the Bighorns’ peaks. It is not challenging in terms of scrambling and technical climbing. But before dismissing it as an unworthy objective, consider a few things recommending this mountain: it is a high mountain delivering an impressive view of the beautiful Cloud Peak Wilderness; the absence of a trail, cairns (at the summit and otherwise), and any kind of summit register will make you feel as though you are the only person who has ever summitted the mountain; and its lack of acclaim will almost guarantee you solitude as you ascend to the summit.
From Tensleep or Buffalo, follow U.S. 16 east or west, respectively, to Forest Road 27. FR 27 is just west of Meadowlark Lake, which is a few miles west and downhill from Powder River Pass. FR 27, which has its share of rocky and washboard spots but is easily passable for most regular cars, heads north about 7 miles to a trailhead and campground at West Tensleep Lake. The trailhead is at about 9,075’.
The drive along U.S. 16 is very scenic from either direction, but I would give the nod to the western approach via Tensleep Canyon, which offers numerous climbing opportunities itself. Tensleep is also a small, quiet town that makes a pleasant place to stay for a few nights.
For a few minutes, you will likely have plenty of company as you hike north along the trail to Mistymoon Lake, a popular hiking destination and a good place for Cloud Peak hikers to camp. But the trail soon reaches a well-marked junction, and you head east toward Mirror Lake and Lost Twin Lakes. Almost instantly, crowds will thin dramatically, and you will enjoy the space and the quiet of the big country out here—maybe not all alone, but certainly not with crowds.
Mirror Lake is about three easy miles from the trailhead and sits at about 9650’. It also has a nice view of Peak Angeline and other peaks in the area, but those mountains are not in its immediate vicinity. Mirror Lake has several nice places to camp.
Peak Angeline (right) from Mirror Lake
About three more miles bring hikers to Lost Twin Lakes, the highlights of the area for those who only intend to stick to the trails. The lower lake is at 10,334’, and soaring cliffs grace the scenery. There are many good camping areas here as well.
Lost Twin Lakes
Literally a couple minutes’ walk from the lakes, the trail crosses a stream coming in from the east. To reach Peak Angeline, leave the trail here and follow the drainage to and beyond timberline. The going was easier on the south side of the stream, and the stream was easy to cross in August. The stream itself features several small but pretty cascades, and some nice mountain flora grows nearby. As you ascend, be sure to turn around occasionally and admire Lost Twin Lakes from this perspective.
Up to timberline
Keep heading up and northeast until you can see the summit ridge, at which point the way up is obvious. It is about 2 miles of Class 2 hiking from the trail to the summit. Enjoy the sweeping views of the wilderness, including the Mather Peaks to the northwest and the lake-strewn drainages to the east.
This ascent can be done as a day hike, but it would be more enjoyable to backpack in and spend a night or two at Mirror Lake or Lost Twin Lakes. Total RT: about 16 miles and 2450’ of vertical gain, with some minor ups and downs adding a little more.
Read and obey the wilderness regulations on display at the trailhead.
Camping is available at West Tensleep Lake. Arrive early on weekends. There are some campgrounds along U.S. 16, too.
External LinksBighorn National Forest