4 Days in the Wind River Range


Oct 12, 2015
Hi all - I'm considering a trip to the Winds this summer and wondering if anyone has done a similar trip, or if we are being a bit too ambitious with our plans.

Due to work and family obligations, my hiking partner and I are only able to get 4 days, at most, for this trip. I'd love to make it to the Titcomb Basin, even though I know it is going to be crowded.

Right now, the itinerary is looking something like this:

Day 1: Elkhart Park TH to Titcomb Basin. (~15.5 miles)
Day 2: Summit Freemont Peak, explore Titcomb Basin (And Indian Basin if time allows)
Day 3: Titcomb Basin to Peak Lake via Knapsack Col, then catch Highline Trail to camp at Upper Jean Lake (~10.5 miles)
Day 4: Upper Jean Lake back to Elkhart Park TH (~15 miles)

Has anyone done this loop before, and if so how long did you take? I am wondering if we need to cut out the loop part of it, and instead just do an out-and-back into Titcomb Basin. We've done 15+ mile days before in Glacier and other parts of Montana, but with this being my first time to the Winds I'm not sure if 4 days is going to be enough time.

Any suggestions/comments?
If you're up for 15+ mile days at 10,000+ feet, it's doable. Nothing too crazy there. I've never hiked into the Titcomb basin in a day, but have hiked out in a day a couple times. It's not too bad going that way. Just have to be in good shape going in, there's a surprising amount of up and down once you get past Eklund Lake. The Elbow Lake area is pretty neat. I hear of a fair number of people camping in the Jean Lakes area but from when I hiked through several years ago, it looked like a tough place to find a campsite.

For some reason, I usually find the trail pretty busy from the trailhead to Seneca lake. Past that things seem to thin out. You will be around people on that loop, though.

You probably won't be disappointed if you just do an out and back to the Titcomb Basin. I did an out and back a few years ago and hiked Indian Pass instead of doing Fremont Peak. Think that was 5 days. I will say that the trail from Eklund to Elkhart is BORING.

Edited to add: I have never personally done Knapsack Col yet. But if you're used to off trail high country passes, it shouldn't pose any issues unusual to that kind of pass. It's becoming a pretty popular route.
Thanks, @b.stark
Now I wonder if we should reverse course, and go in through the Highline trail, breaking that up differently to get two 10-12 mile days on the way in. Then, have one 15+ mile day on the last day from Titcomb all the way out. I'm having a hard time finding mileages between points, especially since Knapsack Col isn't officially on a trail. Anyone have any good resources for that? I think it would definitely help with the planning to know if my mileage estimates are accurate.

@LarryBoy , you got it, I will do my best to get that picture for Scatman!
I don't know the kind of shape you and your partner are in. Titcomb to Elkhart is certainly doable in a day if you have good conditioning and can take the altitude but there are a lot of ups and downs between the two. It's not an easy 15 in either direction so just keep that in mind (photographers point and Island lake are about the same elevation but the 7 ish miles between the two you gain and lose about 1500 feet, can play with your head a little lol). Certainly going from Titcomb to Elkhart would be easier but would still have around 1500 elevation gain.

I haven't done Elkhart to Jean Lake so sorry I can't help with that one!

Caltopo.com seems to work great for me when planning trips, create lines to get milage and elevation profile. Seems pretty accurate too in my experience.

Unless Elkhart to Jean is a lot easier hike I would say go for Titcomb on day 1 and then see how you guys feel from there. If after that you feel the loop would be too much there is plenty to explore between titcomb and indian basins (like bagging Fremont like you mentioned) on day hikes. Be a good way to go for the whole thing but not be disappointed if you decided to just make it an out and back. I'm all about going for gold and having contingencies lol.

Sounds like a great trip, have fun!
I’ll just chime in to say 15 miles in Glacier and 15 miles in the Winds are not 1:1. The elevation differential needs to be considered. Sounds like a really cool trip if you’re conditioned for it.
I went to that area this last September. I didn't do the Knapsack Col route---I did the Cook Lakes to Wall Lake to Indian Basin to Titcomb Basin route instead, but those trails in general are not too difficult for the given mileage. I was surprised at how many people I met doing the Knapsack Col Route. I was also surprised that we actually liked the Indian Basin area better than the Titcomb Basin area. Titcomb is slightly more spectacular, but the hike into the basin is similar views the whole way in, while Indian Basin is more varied scenery with its twists and turns. I highly recommend hiking to the Fremont Saddle (before the scrambling begins) even if you don't make it to the summit. Indian pass was also fun. I personally think 4 days isn't enough, though. We had 5 days, and the trip would have been a more natural 6-day trip (for my party anyway). As was mentioned above, it's a long boring hike to get to where the good stuff begins (it really takes 9 miles or so before it starts getting awesome), so I personally would opt for somewhere else if I only had four days.
In 4 days you might want to try a loop through the Cirque. If you do Titcomb via Highline I'd suggest camp #1 at Big Slide. Great scenery even with all the use it gets. Another thing to consider in planning is the weather. Always have a Plan B.
If you are in reasonable condition you can do elkhart to titcomb in one day without issues. I am not an athlete by any means and while I do a fair amount of backpacking I am still a bit overweight, but I was able to do it in a day and it wasn't that bad.
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