Medicine Bow Peak is the tallest peak in the Medicine Bow National Forest, making it a popular destination for many hikers. While there are several trails to the top, I like the Lakes Trail because you’ll see so many lakes along the way, you can always take a “photo stop” when you need a break.
The Lakes Trail starts at Mirror Lake off Highway 130 (directions below). You’ll actually drive by Mirror Lake as you head to the parking lot. A sign here warns hikers not to start this hike after 3:30 p.m. and to dress warmly, because the weather can change quickly.
As you hike up the trail, you’ll notice you’re already gaining elevation. You’ll be gaining about 1,350 feet in elevation over the next 2.9 miles. About a tenth of a mile from the trailhead, you’ll start seeing big boulders next to the trail and Medicine Bow Peak in the distance. On the other side of those boulders is an unnamed lake, but you don’t have to climb the boulders to see the lake, there are plenty more lakes to come.
Keep hiking up the trail. When you reach a big right turn, look back at Lookout Lake. This is a great spot for a photo of the lake with the Medicine Bow Range behind it.
About 1.8 miles (and 400 feet of elevation gain) from the trailhead, you’ll reach the saddle between Sugarloaf Mountain (the pointy one on your right) and Medicine Bow Peak (on your left). This is where you turn on to Medicine Bow Peak Trail 295. From here is just 1.1 miles to the top, but it’s going to be steep. You’ll be gaining 900 feet as you climb this very rocky trail.
As you climb, enjoy the incredible views. Look back the way you came. I counted at least four lakes and two ponds. To the north, on the other side of that saddle you just climbed is Lewis Lake, South Gap Lakes and in the distance, Telephone Lakes and several more unnamed lakes and ponds.
As you get higher, you’ll get a view of some lakes behind Browns Peak – that’s Lower and Upper Shelf lakes.
Yes, this trail is tough, but take your time, take in the views and enjoy the experience of being here.
The last push to the summit is all rocks and scree. Be careful as you climb/walk cross the boulders to the summit. At the top, it’s time to celebrate with lunch and marvel at the views and what you’ve accomplished.
Details: The hike from the Mirror Lake parking lot to the summit of Medicine Bow and back is 5.8 miles roundtrip with about 1,350 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: Take I-25 to Cheyenne. Take I-80 west to Laramie. Take the exit 311 for Snowy Range Road/WY-130/WY-230. Turn west. Take WY-130/Snowy Range Road for about 41.3 miles to Mirror Lake and the turnoff for the parking lot. (You'll pass the town of Centennial that has lodging and food).