Friday, August 7, 2015

Hiking the Bighorn Mountains: Long Lake

Long Lake is another beautiful subalpine lake in the Bighorn Mountains less than 20 miles West of our home base for the month in Buffalo, WY. We reached the Oliver Creek Trail head via a road that was pretty rough in spots, a high clearance vehicle is recommended.

This hike was somewhat easier than our last two hikes in these mountains; it was "only" about seven miles round trip and "only" about 1,000 feet of elevation gain...but we did have to contend with lots of cows (and their byproducts) and cow trails interfering with actual trail!

We chose to park up on the bluff overlooking our trailhead, instead of making the drop down to the creek.

Here's a picture of the actual end of road/start of trail (taken at the end of the hike).

Off we go across the meadow...

Several times we came upon cows...we got so caught up in pushing this group ahead of us that we missed our turn.
Though we may have missed the turn because the meadow and the cow trails were obliterating the actual trail.
Fortunately, once again, we had the NatGeo Cloud Peak Wilderness map to help us get back on course.

The trail took us up to a ridge and the elevation and terrain change brought all sorts of pleasant changes...
like ripe strawberries!

...and pretty flowers!


Long Lake did not disappoint.

But even more fun was following the glacial rock deposits down stream from the lake.
That's Hans rock hopping at center of photo.

Oliver Creek made an appearance through the rocks and provided a perfect spot for lunch and lounging,

The water flowing off the surface of the lake was not too cold.

And we saw several small trout darting among the rocks.

On the way back down we had pretty views over the tops of young lodgepole pine growing back from the 1988 Lost Fire.

And more delicious strawberries!

We seemed to be hiking through a Christmas tree farm!

I think this is a Hairy Woodpecker.




On this day we only saw three other people, two were camped at the trailhead, one was fishing at Long Lake. In general, we've found the Bighorn Mountains to be lightly traveled, one of the reasons we chose to spend a month in this area. Another great day on the trail!





23 comments:

  1. What a beautiful day Lisa! It is so nice to have the trail to yourselves and quiet to relax and take in all the beauty, smells, and feel of your surroundings. I always take my boots off and wet my toes every chance I get! Love the flowers and dead trees and a woodpecker I have not sees before...

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    1. Solitude and nature is my favorite combination in the world!

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  2. Looks like a very nice hike. Any trail with lovely wildflowers and ripe strawberries is a good one!

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    1. Yes indeed...the flowers are subsiding but the berries are just starting.

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  3. What a beautiful hike and even better when there are hardly any people. That is our kind of hiking!

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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  4. It looks like we are going to have to book lots of time in this part of WY, when we get back up north. Great photos Lisa!

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    1. It really is beautiful here, so worth the stop!

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  5. Replies
    1. Scenes like this are definitely our happy place!

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  6. Really nice trail. YUM on those strawberries. Beautiful Indian Paintbrush. I'm so glad you are showing me this area which is less heavily traveled. It sure has beautiful hikes to gorgeous lakes. That's some boulder hopping you guys did. Ankles beware. Deer, antelope, hair woodpeckers, strawberries, wildflowers and FEW people sounds perfect to me.

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    1. Perfect indeed! In some ways the boulder hoping was easier than the rocky trails!

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  7. What a gorgeous hike! The rock hopping looks like fun. Beautiful wildflowers, too. And it's always such a sweet bonus to come across ripe wild strawberries. p.s. You're right, that's a hairy woodpecker. :-)

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  8. Looks like another great trail. Wish there were some trails around Ouray with "only" 1000' of elevation gain!

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    1. Yeah, we haven't hiked any higher than about 9200 feet...much "easier" than those 10, 11, 12, 13,000 foot trails you've been doing!

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  9. My kind of hike, scenic with wildflowers, wild fruits (did you taste some) birds, wild animals and everything in between. Not sure about the rock hopping though, but glad that Hans had a great time at the glacial rocks.

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    1. Yes, some were a little tart but some were just perfect little morsels!

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  10. Super hike! Love the photo of you and Hans on the rock:) The wildflower photos with the dead wood came out so pretty. I've never seen pronghorn on a hike. Great photo:) What a nice day having the trail to yourself. Thanks for taking me on hike I desperately need:)

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  11. You know those cows purposely cris-cross the trail and then laugh at hikers while they find their way through :-) Wonderful photos, love the flowers and the one of the two of you. So nice to enjoy nature with no one else around.

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  12. You're taking such beautiful hikes in the Bighorns. I think they are an underrated area, but that's a good thing I guess. Not so touristy. I think you're right about that woodpecker. Just saw my first Hairy Woodpecker myself in Montana yesterday.

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  13. Wild strawberries are so delicious! What a find.

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  14. Looks like we will be putting this area on our radar for the future! Nice stay Lisa!

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