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Elsa/Spear Lake Loop

Difficult
 5.0 (3) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Great multi-day loop with AWESOME fishing in the high lakes.


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Map Key

24.6

Miles

39.5

KM

80%

Runnable

11,161' 3,402 m

High

8,504' 2,592 m

Low

5,523' 1,683 m

Up

5,521' 1,683 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

42%

Max Grade (23°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features Commonly Backpacked · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

Good challenging run that gets you WAY up in the mountains, gives you access to great fishing, good wildflower viewing, and a beautiful trip across highland park. Uphill the first couple days but lots of downhill in the end.

Description

Start out at Coffeen Park and head south on Solitude Loop Trail #038 and over Geneva Pass. Turn east on Cliff Lake Trail #060 and travel about two miles to Lake Eunice. Here you'll continue east up the creek to Lake Elsa.

If you camp about half way up the lake on the north side of Lake Elsa look east/northeast and you'll see a game trail going straight up over the ridge. Follow this trail over the ridge and into the Spear Lake drainage. I would NOT recommend this until mid-late August when the snow is gone because getting down the east side of that pass can be tricky. I skirted the ridge to Loomis but you could just as easily drop into the drainage and continue to Spear Lake.

At some point I would recommend staying on the north side of the creek when approaching Spear Lake because the trail is on the north side and the lake is not easily skirted. You may have to run up the hill to the north right when you reach Spear Lake to pick up Spear Lake Trail #036. It does not go along the shore but instead is about 20 yards up the hill.

Travel north to Highland Lake. Skirt the lake to the east, cross the outlet, and continue skirting to the north. There is a prominent trail that heads out directly north of Highland Lake and takes you up to Highland Park. You'll re-connect with Trail #038 at the pass and you can follow this the rest of the way. It crosses an ATV road near Cross Creek Reservoir, you want to go straight across. Then when you run into the trail near Coffeen Park turn right and you are home free.

The only part of this trail that you are not running on a maintained trail is between Lake Elsa and Spear Lake. That part is an elk trail. It is a challenging run with bouldering and a very narrow valley which the creek runs through above Spear Lake. This is where the best wildflowers were. I would rate the part between Elsa and Spear very difficult and the rest intermediate. The dog made it the whole way without any help so I know you can do it! Happy trails!

Flora & Fauna

Lots of mosquitoes at those high lakes this year. Lots of flowers in the Spear Lake drainage.

Shared By:

Tucker Hamilton

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 3 votes

#992

Overall
  5.0 from 3 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#30

in Wyoming

#992

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Photos

Overlooking Lake Elsa from the north.
Nov 16, 2020 near Buffalo, WY
First glimpse of the cliffs on the other side of the creek.
Sep 7, 2017 near Sheridan, WY
Looking east from the ridge. Spear Lake is the closest, Kearney is in the distance, and Highland Park is on the left.
Aug 7, 2020 near Buffalo, WY
Looking at Lake Elsa from the game trail that takes you over the ridge.
Aug 7, 2020 near Buffalo, WY
Crossing the East Fork of Big Goose Creek.
Aug 12, 2017 near Sheridan, WY
Looking at Geneva Pass from the north.
Aug 7, 2020 near Buffalo, WY

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