Wyoming: Wind River Range- Green River Lake to Three Forks Park
Total Mileage- 10.74 miles
Total Elevation Gain- 2033 feet
Total Elevation Loss- 2004 feet
Let’s start out with the fact that we had to alter our trip on Day 3 because we were unable to hit Bonney Pass due to ice and snow. I will discuss this more on the Day 3 post, but if you are looking for a loop route that hits a significant portion of the Sierra High Route, you won’t find it here. We took the conservative options and readjusted our route, opting not to test Mother Nature. I believe that we attempted this route a week too late, as we started Day 1 on September 3. Typically the first heavy snowfall doesn’t hit until the middle of the month.
Day 1 was beautiful as we approached Green River Lakes parking lot. It was everything we hoped it would be- mid-60 degree weather with no bugs, blue skies, white puffy clouds. We believed that the first week of September would be the sweet spot with no bugs, cool days/cold nights, and little to no snow. We typically anchor our trips to Labor Day so we save a vacation day, however starting on this particular weekend meant more human activity than we really wanted. We always hope for complete solitude, but everyone was no doubt trying to get in their last trip before the snow. In retrospect, we should have considered the last week of August. Had we done that we likely would have eliminated some of the people traffic and avoided the first big snow of the season.
Our goal for Day 1 was to hit Three Forks Park (10.7 miles), which is a really nice, open basin area with plenty of camping opportunities at the confluence of Green River, Wells Creek, and Clark Creek. As we left the Green River parking lot there were spectacular views of Square Top Mountain. There are a couple of trail options from the parking lot. We opted for Lakeside Trail that hugged the west side of the first lake. There is also a trail on the east side of the lake that is a more direct route. The east side trail is Highline Trail, also labeled Continental Divide Trail. Either trail works. If you take Lakeside Trail there is an eastward cut-across after the first lake that takes you over to Highline Trail. While we had amazing views on Lakeside Trail, I would probably recommend taking the eastward trail simply because it is more direct and you may get better views of Square Top.
After the eastward cut-across, we took a quick snack break. We were at about the 3.5 mile mark. The next three miles were relatively flat (a few ups and downs) with great views of Flattop Mountain and the second Green Lake. The waters are an absolutely stunning Caribbean blue in which you can actually see fish swimming. Later on the trip we stripped down and jumped in one of the lakes (more on that later), but the water temps in early September were in the 40’s. Nice and shockingly cold. The trail was well-established and visible worn for easy backpacking.
The final three miles to Three Forks Park were a gradual ascent. Overall, this was a very leisurely and beautiful 10.7 miles. We averaged just under 2mph and it took us a little over six hours. We could have very easily gone faster, but we took our time and enjoyed the views. Three Forks Park is a really nice, open meadowy area with many camping options. The only downside was that there were quite a few people camping in the area. There were a couple of backpacking groups and then another group with horses, big tents, and a dog. All in all it wasn’t too bad and didn’t distract us too much, but there is always this yearning to just get away from crowds and have complete solitude. Again, this was a holiday weekend so we had to expect this. Also, the popularity of the area has really grown over the years with more exposure and people talking about it.
Day Two will take us south and then eastward just passed Peak Lake where we had our most unpredictable night.