Wyoming Trail s(u)

The Wyoming Trail is part of the Continental Divide Trail in extreme northern Colorado. Together with a section of dirt road it connects the tops of Old Rabbit Ears Pass and Buffalo Pass, in the Gore Range west of Steamboat Springs. The most interesting sections for me were near the two endpoints of the Wyoming Trail, where the forest opens up far views. The trail itself is an endless traverse between small lakes, mud puddles, grown over swampy areas, and hybrids of all three, next to - or on the trail. There must be 40 or 50 of them, but counting is hard because one man's lake is another's mud puddle.


1.(mile00.0,6860ft)START-END SOUTH: jct US40 - CR14F, south of Steamboat Springs
2.(mile17.6,8570ft)Old Rabbit Ears Pass
3.(mile20.4,10270ft)FR311 Wyoming Trailhead s(u)
4.(mile21.3,10030ft)Wyoming Trail trailhead: single track begins
5.(mile23.3,9920ft)Fishhook Lake
6.(mile23.8,9960ft)Lost Lake turnoff
7.(mile32.2,10610ft)TOP: Wyoming Trail s(u)
8.(mile33.3,10340ft)profile turns left near top of Buffalo Pass
9.(mile46.6,6900ft)START-END NORTH: Steamboat Springs

Approaches

From South:
The profile starts at the jct of Co131 and US40, south of Steamboat Springs. Here starts the long climb up to Rabbit Ears Pass. After one has done it several times you might also use the word monotone. Probably a ride over the Wyoming Trail will start at the top of Old Rabbit Ears Pass at point 2. During my day loop I rode the section between points 1 and 2 at the end to get back to the starting point.

The route to "Old Rabbit Ears Pass" is marked with the sign "Dumont Lake". At the old historic pass marker an unpaved road heads north, through a forest of "no camping" signs, and splits into three options immediately after the initial junction. FR311 is the middle of these roads. It climbs into open meadows at a slope that is perfect for a good workout, and actually - in my opinion - these first couple of miles are the most scenic and interesting of the entire loop - by far - and we aren't even on the Wyoming Trail yet. Instead FR311 reaches a shoulder summit in its own right. The map shows it descending back to the Rabbit Ears Pass Road.

At the top of FR311 two signs mark the junctions with the Wyoming Trail. First it joins from below, and then the Wyoming Trail heads north at a well marked trailhead, near the end of FR311. The trail actually descends from the trailhead and contains many muddy sections. The descent is a little over 500ft. So I count it as a separate summit. The section between FR311 and Lost Lake contained so much downed timber and muddy spots that progress was very slow.



At Lost Lake a sign might be helpful that the main trail continues to the left, leading to the next of this endless string of nondescript small lakes in the woods. This would have made my ride 55 minutes shorter. But now I know what if feels like to carry my bike to the other end of Lost Lake and back, looking for a trail in the woods.

The endless traverse between muddy lakes continues to a grand intersection in the forest. All four directions are well signed, and the Wyoming Trail continues straight. From here progress becomes much faster. The trail seems to be maintained for tourists, be they cyclists or ATV drivers, and from here to Buffalo Pass I meet several of each species.

There are no far views on any part of this trail till the descend to Buffalo Pass begins. Finally a hazy image of North Park and a faint Rawah Ridge appears between gnarly branches, eaten by beetles.

From North. (described downwards). Approaching the highest part on this trail, the forest opens for the first time since leaving FR311. The double track trail crosses under a power line and over one single last remnant of spring snow. To the the north the Mount Zirkel Wilderness appears behind a blanket of wild flowers. A quick descend leads to a whole complex of parking lots at the top of Buffalo Pass.

The profile descends Buffalo Pass to Steamboat Springs. The exceedingly rough road does not stop a whole battalion of tent campers from driving up here. But my visit is on the 4th of July weekend, and I think that weekend has mandatory camping for many people. At other times it is less hectic.

A short section of Buffalo Pass runs through open meadows, giving far views into the Yampa Valley. The road crosses two gates and with each crossed gate the road takes a distinct step to a more civilized character. That also means that suddenly, camping in the forest is no longer allowed, except for one last fee campground. When the road exits the National Forest it becomes a hard medalled surface, approaching Steamboat Springs finally a paved road between fields.


Dayride with the point as hugest summit:

PARTIALLY PAVED / UNPAVED / TRAIL

(< Old Rabbit Ears Pass| FR103 Chimney Rock Rd s(u) >)
Wyoming Trail s(u) , FR311 Wyoming Trailhead s(u) : FR100 just south of Rabbit Ears Pass > FR100 north > US40 west > Co199 north > Old Rabbit Ears Pass(shp) > up FR311 > FR311 Wyoming trailhead s(u) > Wyoming Trail north <> out and back to the south end of Lost Lake through the forest >> continuing north on Wyoming Trail > Wyoming Trail s(u) > Buffalo Pass(shp) > Buffalo Pass Rd west > Steamboat Springs with short detour > US40 north > Rabbit Ears Pass(shp) > back to starting point on FR100: 58.6miles with 5860ft of climbing in 7:59hrs (Garmin etrex30: m5:15.6.4)
Notes: mosquito hell on Wyoming Trail