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CDT: Big Sandy to North Fork Lake (WY Sec. 13)

Intermediate
 4.7 (3)

Cross high open meadows and visit pretty lakes, all with scenic views of Continental Divide mountains.


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Map Key

26.2

Miles

42.2

KM

Point to Point

10,564' 3,220 m

High

9,115' 2,778 m

Low

3,801' 1,159 m

Up

3,118' 950 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

31%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

USFS rules, please:
- camp at least 200 feet away from lakes, creeks, and trails.
- leash dogs in crowded areas
- follow Leave No Trace Principles

Section Of

Description

The trail start at the southern end of this CDT section, is found 0.6 miles north of the Big Sandy trailhead, at a marked trail junction along Big Sandy River. Follow the arrow to Dads Lake to hike this CDT: Big Sandy to North Fork Lake (WY Sec. 13). The first three miles is a serious uphill through the pine forest with a lot of blowdown from a freak windstorm in early September 2020. Thanks to the NFS, the trail itself is cleared of blowdown.

At the 3.0 mile mark, the trail levels off as it pops out of the forest into grassy meadows and views of distant peaks, which is the theme of most of this CDT section. Tiny Mirror Lake is passed, then Dads Lake and Marms Lake, both with good camping.

Leaving Marms Lake behind at the 7.0 mile mark, lakes and water become scarcer for the next nine miles as the trail travels over high rocky, grassy meadows with great views of the peaks of the Continental Divide to the right/east. The trail drops briefly to cross Washakie Creek, a great place to fill up on water and take a break, at the 9.0 mile mark. After Washakie Creek there are a couple small creeks, and the next lake is Cross Lake, about five miles further on at the 14.0 mile mark. However, Cross Lake is about a quarter mile away from the trail to the west. Soon after Cross Lake comes Raid Lake at the 16.0 mile mark, and a cute little lake at its north end. These are the beginnings of the frequent lakes and water sources for the rest of this section.

Still in the rocky, grassy meadows, Dream Lake, followed by Bobs Lake and Sandpoint Lake, along with side trails to Middle Fork Lake, are soon passed over the next three miles. Halls Creek, a large creek in a lovely green valley, is reached at the 21.0 mile mark.

Then comes a one mile climb up the forested Halls Butte. Traveling over little ups and downs, Pipestone Lakes and unmarked side trails- Valley Lake Trail, to pretty Valley Lake to the east, are passed. Then at the 24.4 mile mark the trail begins a one mile descent through the trees, to come out into meadows and first views of North Fork Lake.

The trail then heads to North Fork Lake, but before reaching the lake it must cross the lake's wide inlet creek cascading down from Victor Lake. North Fork Lake is reached at the 25.7 mile mark, and the trail runs along the lake's north end for almost a half mile. Just as the trail finishes passing North Fork Lake, a signed trail junction with Victor Lake Trail #7115 is reached. This is where this CDT section ends.

Flora & Fauna

Mostly high, rocky, grassy meadows with stands of pines. A few stretches of thin pine forest, especially the first three miles, around Halls Butte, and North Fork Lake. Amazing summer wildflowers.

Contacts

Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes

#6914

Overall
  4.7 from 3 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
33%
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Trail Rankings

#142

in Wyoming

#6,914

Overall
37 Views Last Month
1,622 Since Aug 19, 2021
Intermediate

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67%
33%
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Photos

Looking south across North Fork Lake from the CDT.
Oct 12, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
The CDT travels north along Dads Lake with (left to right) Mt. Geikie, 12,378 ft., unnamed, Tower Peak, 12,330 ft., and Mt. Hooker, 12,504 ft., in the distance.
Oct 12, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
Marms Lake along the CDT with Mt. Geikie, 12,378 ft., in the distance to the north-northwest, on a perfect August morning.
Oct 12, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
Dawn breaks over the Continental Divide (the far peaks left center), along the CDT near Raid Lake. Just west of the Continental Divide are Pronghorn Peak, 12,388 ft. (left), Mt. Bonneville, 12, 585 ft. (center), and Raid Peak, 12,532 ft. (right).
Oct 12, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
Yet another pretty little lake in the alpine meadows beneath the Continental Divide to the east.  Mountains (left to right) are Mt. Bonneville, 12,585 ft., Raid Peak, 12,532 ft., unnamed, Mt. Geikie, 12,378 ft.
Oct 12, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
North Fork Lake looking southeast from its northwestern corner along the North Fork Lake Bypass Trail.
Aug 11, 2020 near Pinedale, WY

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Aug 27, 2021
Marc Corona
Aug 8, 2021
Joan Pendleton
Jun 22, 2020
Dominque Simmons
A couple of the water crossings were tricky, but this was a beautiful hike! 5.4mi — 2h 45m
Jan 2, 2017
Katie Stuart