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.
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.