The Bighorn Mountain Range is a spur from the Rocky Mountains and is about 200 miles in length with two peaks at just over 13,000 feet and a dozen more over 12,000 feet. Cloud Peak Wilderness protects the center of the range and is surrounded by the Bighorn National Forest, both of these areas provide miles of hiking and fishing opportunities.
Our first hike in the Wilderness was a doozy: 9.5 mile Sherd Lake Loop took us through dense, healthy lodgepole pine forest, past numerous lakes and glacial ponds, across several crystal clear creeks and offered up views of 11,000 foot peaks and a couple of moose to top off a wonderful day on the trail. We ended up hiking about 11.5 miles due to losing the trail at one point, so we were glad we had purchased the NatGeo Cloud Peak Wilderness trail map to get us back on track!
|Our first good view of the Bighorn Range as we drove to our trailhead. These Wyoming cows have it made!
The peaks viewable from here top out at about 11,000 feet so there is very little snow left on them.
|The first couple of miles of trail climbed gently through thick lodgepole forest
so we were happy to break out of the trees to this beautiful glacial pond with an active beaver lodge.
|I think this was at Sherd Lake.
|Yet another pretty lake...I don't think it's possible to get tired of pretty subalpine settings!
|The ranger had told us to be prepared for stream crossings so we packed our Tevas,
but we were able to find a dry way across all four large stream crossings on this hike.
|As the trail ascended, the sections of exposed glacial rock grew more frequent
giving us a break from the forest but adding rocks to the trail!
|This scene was the highlight of our day.
We had a fabulous view of the peaks, fluffy clouds, a beautiful meadow and crystal clear Clear Creek
studded with boulders, AND a pair of moose...the two tiny brown specks on the left side of the meadow...
|We were fortunate to watch this pair for several minutes before they ambled off into the forest.
|Much of the hike was through lodgepole forest, with occasional openings for lakes and creeks.
|We got off the trail just as the rain started, extremely important for avoiding lightning!
There are some sweet boondocking spots off highway 16 as it skirts the Bighorn Mountains.