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Valley Lake Trail

Intermediate
 4.0 (1)

Nice side trail to loop around a pretty lake, and access the trail to Europe Pass on the Continental Divide.


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Map Key

1.9

Miles

3.0

KM

Point to Point

10,238' 3,121 m

High

10,155' 3,095 m

Low

104' 32 m

Up

50' 15 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

6%

Max Grade (3°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · 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

Description

Valley Lake Trail starts and ends along the CDT: Big Sandy to North Fork Lake (WY Sec. 13). Neither trail junction with the CDT mentions Valley Lake Trail, although there is a sign for the CDT at the Valley Lake Trail start shown in this description.

At the Valley Lake Trail start, look for a faint trail in the grass heading northeast, away from the CDT. This is Valley Lake Trail. Valley Lake Trail is a relatively flat trail until a small hill at the very end. Heading off into the grass, there are pretty stands of pines along the way, good for getting some shade from the bright sun up here. Valley Lake comes into view after only about a tenth of a mile. It is a pretty lake with an irregular shoreline, off to the right/east. The trail follows the west side of Valley Lake up to its northern end.

At Valley Lake's northern end, Valley Lake Trail rounds a rocky hill on the left/west, and bends northwest. Watch carefully here for a trail junction with the options to continue straight, or do a U-turn. Going straight puts one on a path to Victor Lake, not on Valley Lake Trail. To stay on Valley Lake Trail take the U-turn and start heading southeast. The trail crosses a wet area, and then runs along another rocky hill on the left/north, with the wet area to the right, and Valley Lake ahead.

Watching carefully, around the 0.9 mile mark, there is a little cairn on the left - this is the start of Europe Canyon Trail. Not much later, there is another rock pile on the left - this is an alternate start to Europe Canyon Trail. Neither Europe Canyon Trail start is signed.

Continuing on in the meadows, amid the trees and small hills, Valley Lake Trail rounds the north end of Valley Lake, crosses an inlet creek to the lake, and heads southeast to follow its east side now. Along the east side, the trail climbs through a rocky, rooty, very old burn area for a short ways.

At the 1.3 mile mark, Valley Lake Trail leaves Valley Lake behind. Still in rocky, grassy meadows, there are some small ponds to the left/east. And soon, a mystery trail appears from the right. It's the CDT, where Valley Lake Trail ends after 1.9 miles.

Flora & Fauna

Rocky, grassy meadows dotted with patches of fir forest.

Contacts

Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#19570

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Trail Rankings

#376

in Wyoming

#19,570

Overall
1 Views Last Month
15 Since Aug 18, 2021
Intermediate

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Photos

Medina Mountain, 11,541 ft. (center), looms in the distance. The tiny cairn in the lower left corner marks the start of Europe Canyon Trail.  Seen looking west on Valley Lake Trail.
Oct 11, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
Looking west across Valley Lake from Valley Lake Trail, Medina Mountain, 11,541 ft. (left), is not too far away.
Oct 11, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
Valley Lake from Valley Lake Trail. In the distance Mt. Victor, 12,254 ft., to the north is on the left, and an unnamed mountain on the right.
Oct 11, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
Look for the faint Valley Lake Trail in the grass, when turning off the CDT to hike this unsigned trail.
Oct 11, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
The bigger cairn marking Europe Canyon Alternate Trail Start is next to Valley LakeTrail on the north side.
Oct 11, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY
Lower center is the bigger cairn that marks the start of Europe Canyon Alternate Trail Start. Head straight up the center to pick up more obvious trail in the trees.
Oct 11, 2021 near Big Sandy, WY

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Aug 13, 2021
Joan Pendleton