Titcomb Basin – Wind River Range, WY (40 mile route)

Trip Overview: The ~40 mile Titcomb Basin and Indian Basin backpacking trek goes through the spectacular and popular Wind River Range in the Bridger Wilderness area of Wyoming. +/ -7,500 feet of elevation across the course of this trek with a peak elevation of 12,145 feet (top of Indian Pass). Highlights include steep glacier cut valleys, glacial-fed alpine lakes, impressive granite peaks, and spectacular views. The beauty of this area makes it one of the more popular backpacking destinations in Wyoming, but the scenery makes up for any crowds you may encounter. Along this route you will explore both the Titcomb and Indian Basins from a basecamp set up at Island Lake.

wind-river-titcomb-indian-basin-overall-map
Overall map of the Titcomb Basin trek in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. The hike is divided across four days. Day 1 Elkhart Trailhead to Island Lake (purple), Day 2 day hiking in the Indian Basin (yellow), Day 3 hiking in the Titcomb Basin (blue), Day 4 hike back to original trailhead.
  • Higher resolution version of the overall map for Titcomb Basin trek (PDF)
  • Topographic map of Wind River Range for purchase (amazon link)

Jump to Day 1: Elkhart Park Trailhead to Island
Jump to Day 2: Explore the Indian Basin
Jump to Day 3: Explore the Titcomb Basin
Jump to Day 4: Island Lake to Elkhart Park Trailhead

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  • Preparations:
    Click here to read more about Permits

    Permits:  No permits are needed to backpack in the Wind River Range. Both the Popo Agie and Bridger Wilderness areas allow groups under 15 people to backpack with no permits or fees. There are a few regulations that backpackers must follow in these areas though. There is no camping allowed within 200 feet of lake shores or within 100 feet of creeks or streams. In the Bridger Wilderness area, campfires are only allowed below the tree line and cutting or removing standing wood is not allowed. Beyond these regulation, you should follow other general rules such as staying on trail, packing out all trash, and properly storing food (either in a bear canister or by properly hanging).

    Click here to read more about Logistics

    Logistics: The Titcomb Basin trek starts and end at the Elkhart Park Trailhead. At the trailhead there are vault toilets and parking, but no potable water source (plan to arrive with a filled camelbak or filter water along the trail). You must drive to the trailhead or arrange for a private shuttle. The trailhead is about 2 hours drive from Jackson, Wyoming.

    If you plan to camp the night before leaving on the trek (a good idea to help acclimate to the elevation), the Trails End Campground near the trailhead is a great option. Sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and it only costs $12 per night. There are vault toilets, but no potable water here. Note that there are only 8 sites at the campground, so it’s possible the campground could be full and you may need to make friends and pitch your tent close to someone else.

    Click here to read more about Difficulty

    Trail Conditions and Difficulty: Many of the trails in the Wind River Range have a good amount of elevation change and traverse high elevation mountain passes. This entire loop sits above 9,000 feet and much of the mileage is above 10,000 feet. Backpackers should spend a day or two acclimating to the thin air, should be in good cardiovascular shape, and should know the signs for altitude sickness.

    Given this route is quite popular, the trails are typically well marked. That said, backpackers should be prepared with a map and compass because storms can drop snow in the high elevation Wind River Range many months of the year. The best time of the year to backpack this route is typically mid-July to mid-September. During this time frame you are least likely to encounter snow on the trail. Note that the weather is unpredictable in the mountains and afternoon thunderstorms are common. Backpackers should be prepared for varying weather and should avoid hiking on high elevation exposed trails in the afternoon when storms are likely.

     

    Supplies: In the Winds, you must be prepared for a variety of conditions depending on the time of year. Up until late July / early August, snow may remain in the high country and on mountain passes. If you are hiking the trail in June or July (before the snow fully melts) or in late September / October (when snow can begin to fall again), you will want to consider bringing microspikes/crampons and an ice ax. If the trail is clear of snow, then these are not needed.

    Because of rapidly changing weather in the mountains, you will want to bring several layers so that you can easily adapt to the changing temperature and also so that you can stay dry. I also recommend having a set of wool clothes to change into at camp. Wool is great because it doesn’t pick up funky stenches as fast at cotton or synthetic clothes. It also dries out quickly so that you are able to stay warm even if all your gear gets soaked in a thunderstorm.

    Other specific gear you will want for backpacking in the Titcomb is related to bear safety. This wilderness area is inhabited by both grizzly and black bears. Thus, it is important to store all food and scented items in either a bear canister or properly hung using a rope and ursack. It is also recommended to carry bear spray. Given the popularity of this route, an encounter with a grizzly is unlikely, but it is best to be prepared.

    You may also want to pre-treat your clothes and tent with permethrin spray repellent. Mosquitoes can be an issue in late July and early August after the snow melts. The permethrin treatment stays on your clothes for up to 7 washes, so it helps reduce the amount of DEET spray you need to put on your skin.

     Below is a list of the gear recommended for backpacking in the Wind River Range:

    Hiking clothes

    Clothes for camp

    Hiking gear

    Camp gear

    Random

    Food and drink

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Day 1: 11.5 miles; +2,600 feet / -1,600 feet; Elkhart Park Trailhead to Island Lake.

wind-river-titcomb-indian-basin-map-day1
Map of the day 1 hike on the Titcomb Basin Trek in the Wind River Range. From the Elkhart Park trailhead to Island Lake.

Map of the Day 1 hike for the Titcomb Basin Trek (PDF)

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Elevation profile for the Day 1 Hike for the Titcomb Basin Trek in the Wind River Range.

The first day of the trek starts with a 11-12 mile trek from the trailhead in Elkhart Part to Island Lake, which will be the basecamp for the next three nights. The hike on Day 1 is fairly long and involves ~2,600 feet of climbing, so plan to leave early and give yourself time. By hiking all the way to Island Lake on Day 1, you then do not need to move camp again until you head back to the trailhead!

The trek starts out by following Pole Creek for ~1.5 miles through a forested area. The trail steadily climbs at the beginning. Near the 2.5 mile mark, the trees start to thin as you continue to gradually climb. There is a Y-junction at the ~3 mile mark. Turning left takes you to Photographer’s Point (at the 4.3 mile mark), which is an excellent viewpoint looking down into a canyon. Going right at the junction instead would take you past Miller Lake, Middle Lake, and Upper Sweeney Lake. In this itinerary, you hike towards Photographer’s Point on the way to Island Lake and take the route by the lakes on the last day. After Photographer’s Point, you follow the Seneca Lake Trail all the way to Seneca Lake. Once you pass Seneca Lake and Little Seneca Lake, you take the Indian Pass Trail to Island Lake.

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The view from “Photographers Point” off the Pole Creek Trail in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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The view from “Photographers Point” off the Pole Creek Trail in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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The view from “Photographers Point” off the Pole Creek Trail in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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The trail then heads east from Photographer’s Point. Along the way you pass through some meadows and get views of small lakes and mountains in the background (credit: John Strother)
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View of mountains as seen from the Pole Creek Trail in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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At the 5 mile mark, turn left at a junction and begin hiking north on the Seneca Lake Trail. At the ~6.5 mile mark, you reach beautiful Hobbs Lake. This is a great spot to stop for lunch (credit: John Strother)
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View of Hobbs Lake with mountains in the background (credit: John Strother)
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View of Hobbs Lake with mountains in the background (credit: John Strother)
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You then continue hiking north along the Seneca Lake Trail. There are some great views along the way (credit: John Strother)
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Hiking north along the Seneca Lake Trail in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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View of Seneca Lake from the Seneca Lake Trail that leads to Island Lake and the Titcomb Basin (credit: John Strother)
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At the ~9 mile mark you reach a section of the Seneca Lake Trail between Seneca Lake and Little Seneca Lake (credit: John Strother)
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At the ~9.5 mile mark, you reach the small and beautiful Little Seneca Lake (credit: John Strother)
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After passing Little Seneca Lake the trail quickly climbs several hundred feet. This is the view looking back down towards Little Seneca Lake after climbing. After this point, there is a junction. Stay right on the Indian Pass Trail and head to Island Lake (credit: John Strother)
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View of a small lake with mountains in the background, seen along the Indian Pass Trail shortly before reaching Island Lake (credit: John Strother)
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First view of Island Lake from the Indian Pass Trail (credit: John Strother)
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View of Fremont Peak (right) from the shore of Island Lake. There are several established campsites on the southeast end of the lake. Island lake makes a nice basecamp for day hikes into the Titcomb Basin and Indian Basin (credit: John Strother)

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Day 2: 8.8 miles; +2,350 feet / -2,350 feet; Explore the Indian Basin and Indian Pass

wind-river-titcomb-indian-basin-map-day2
Map of the day 2 hike on the Titcomb Basin Trek in the Wind River Range. From Island Lake to Indian Pass and back.

Map of the Day 2 hike of the Titcomb Basin Trek (PDF)

wind-river-titcomb-indian-basin-elevation-day2
Elevation profile for the Day 2 Hike for the Titcomb Basin Trek in the Wind River Range.

On day 2 of this trek, you head off to explore the Indian Basin and climb to the top of Indian Pass. Leave your camp at Island Lake and only take a day pack along the hike. The Indian Pass Trail leads north towards Lake 10,467. At the ~1 mile mark there is a junction. The trail to the east (Indian Pass Trail) leads to the Indian Basin and the trail to the north (Titcomb Basin Trail) leads to the Titcomb Basin. On this day, you continue on the Indian Pass Trail and head east to the Indian Basin and Indian Pass. The hike to the top of the pass and back is roughly 9 miles long. Along the way you can explore the several lakes in the Indian Basin and can view the Harrower Glacier and Knife Point Glacier from the top of Indian Pass.

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View of Fremont Peak (right) from the shore of Island Lake (credit: John Strother)
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View of Lake 10,467 from the trail that leads to the junction towards Indian Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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Looking north at Lake 10,467 with the Titcomb Basin behind it (credit: John Strother)
wind-river-range-titcomb-basin-day2-shore-lake-10467
View from the shore of Lake 10.467. Once you pass this lake there is a trail junction. Take the trail to the east in order to get to the Indian Basin, the trail to the north goes to the Titcomb Basin (credit: John Strother)
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The trail to the Indian Basin steadily climbs up and to the east. There are no lakes until you are ~1 mile past the trail junction (credit: John Strother)
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View of a small lake that you pass about 1 mile after the junction leading to the Indian Basin. The Elephant Head and Harrower Peak are in the background (credit: John Strother)
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Before reaching the main large lakes in the Indian Basin, the trail crosses a creek with some small cascades (credit: John Strother)
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View of the unnamed lake in the Indian Basin with Fremont Peak and Jackson Peak in the background (credit: John Strother)
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Hiking along the east shore of the unnamed lake in the Indian Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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Fremont Peak (left) and Jackson Peak (right) in the Indian Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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Looking back across the unnamed lake in the Indian Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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View of one of the lakes in the Indian Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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View of Lake 10,813 in the Indian Basin with Harrower Peak in the back left and Elephant Head in the back right (credit: John Strother)
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View looking to the southwest towards Island Lake and Lake 10,467 while hiking down from the Indian Basin (credit: John Strother)

For a nice selection of photos showing views from the top of Indian Pass, check out this page from HikingWalking.com.

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……….

Day 3:  8.8 miles; +880 feet / -880 feet; Explore the Titcomb Basin

wind-river-titcomb-indian-basin-map-day3
Map of the day 3 hike on the Titcomb Basin Trek in the Wind River Range. From Island Lake to the Titcomb Basin and back.

Map of the Day 3 hike of the Titcomb Basin Trek (PDF)

wind-river-titcomb-indian-basin-elevation-day3
Elevation profile of the Day 3 hike of the Titcomb Basin Trek.

On day 3, explore the Titcomb Basin, which has some of the best views in the Wind River Range. Again leave camp at Island Lake and take the Indian Pass Trail north. At the 1 mile junction, head north on the Titcomb Basin Trail. This trail leads into the Titcomb Basin. It is roughly 9 miles round trip to the north tip of the Upper Titcomb Lake and back to Island Lake. Once in the Titcomb Basin, you can explore the area and take possible side trips to Summer Ice Lake and or Mistake Lake.

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Looking north towards the Titcomb Basin from near Island Lake (credit: John Strother)
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The trail leading to the Titcomb Basin skirts along the east side of Lake 10,467 (credit: John Strother)
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Near the 1 mile mark, the Titcomb Basin Trail crosses a creek shortly after passing Lake 10,467 (credit: John Strother)
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Hiking along the Titcomb Basin Trail after passing Lake 10,467 (credit: John Strother)
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Hiking north along the Titcomb Basin Trail near the 1.2 mile mark (credit: John Strother)
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There is a small lake near the 1.3 mile mark along the Titcomb Basin Trail. This is shortly before the trail reaches Lake 10,548 (credit: John Strother)
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The Titcomb Basin Trail then begins to really open up and provide great views as you approach Lake 10,548 (credit: John Strother)
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View from the ~1.5 mile mark along the Titcomb Basin Trail (credit: John Strother)
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View of Lake 10,548 which you pass on the way to Titcomb Lakes (credit: John Strother)
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One of many great views in the Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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One of many great views in the Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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One of many great views in the Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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One of many great views in the Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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One of many great views in the Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)
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View showing both the Upper Titcomb Lake and Lower Titcomb Lake in the Titcomb Basin (credit: John Strother)
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View looking south across the Lower Titcomb Lake (credit: John Strother)
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One of many great views in the Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range (credit: John Strother)

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Day 4: 11.7 miles; +1,700 feet / -2,760 feet; Island Lake to Elkhart Park Trailhead

wind-river-titcomb-indian-basin-map-day4
Map of the day 4 hike on the Titcomb Basin Trek in the Wind River Range. From Island Lake back to the Elkhart Park Trailhead.

Map of the Day 4 hike of the Titcomb Basin Trek (PDF)

wind-river-titcomb-indian-basin-elevation-day4
Elevation profile of the Day 4 hike of the Titcomb Basin Trek.

On the last day you hike out to the Elkhart Park Trailhead via the Indian Pass Trail and Seneca Lake Trails that you hiked in on. The only major difference will be taking the Sweeney Creek Trail at the ~6 mile mark instead of hiking by Photographer’s Point again. You do not have to take this route, but it allows you to see a few more lakes on your way out.

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Final view of Island Lake and Fremont Peak before heading south along the Seneca Lake Trail to the Elkhart Park Trailhead (credit: John Strother)
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Sweeney Lake seen from along the Sweeney Creek Trail (credit: John Strother)
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Miller Lake seen from along the Sweeney Creek Trail (credit: John Strother)
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Miller Lake seen from along the Sweeney Creek Trail (credit: John Strother)

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Here are some similar trip reports!

Cirque of the Towers Loop – Wind River Range, WY (45 mile loop)

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North Circle Loop – Glacier National Park (52 mile loop)

Teton Crest Trail – Grand Teton National Park (48 mile loop)

3 Replies to “Titcomb Basin – Wind River Range, WY (40 mile route)”

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