Cook Lakes to Wall Lake to Indian Basin to Titcomb Basin

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
215
I am planning a trip in the Wind River range for this weekend and had a few last-minute questions. I already put up another post about preparing for the weather and general gear needed, so this post is more about the specific route itself. I am hoping to do some variation of the following route:

Day 1: Elkhart trailhead to Cook Lakes. Camp somewhere around Cook Lakes. Around 12 miles and 2k ft elevation gain. All on-trail according to the map, but I'm not sure how easy the trail is to follow there.

Day 2: Cook Lakes to Wall Lake to Indian Basin via "Wall-Island Pass". All "off-trail", although I'm not sure how much of a user trail to expect. Around 8 miles or so, with less than 1.5 kft gain. Camp somewhere in Indian Basin.

Day 3. Explore Indian basin, mostly without the heavy packs. Maybe move the tents to somewhere between Island Lake and the Titcomb Lakes.

Day 4. Day-hike up Titcomb basin to Bonney Pass and hopefully to Dinwoody Peak. Return to the same campsite (somewhere in the Island Lake/Indian Basin/Titcomb Lakes vicinity). 10-15 miles depending on the campsite location, with around 3k ft elevation gain. Not sure how hard the rocky terrain around Bonney Pass is.

Day 5. Return to the Elkhart Park trailhead. ~12 miles downhill.

OK, so here's my questions:

1. This route is a variation of one of the routes in the Nancy Pallister guidebook. She says the "crux" of the route is on the East side of Wall Lake. If anyone has done that section, how hard is it? I would like to do this route counter-clockwise (as described in the itinerary above) instead of clockwise as described in the guidebook; is one of the directions easier for this crux? I don't really want to do any class 3 scrambling with the heavy packs.

2. Are there any surprisingly tough areas on this route, either due to gnarly terrain, dense vegetation, or tough stretches to navigate? Should I expect any difficult stream crossings?

3. The guidebook suggests several optional add-ons such as Bald Mountain Basin (Spider Lake) and the upper Pole Creek area. I think I'm going to skip these so that I have time to explore upper Titcomb Basin and hopefully Dinwoody Peak, but if there are must-see areas to explore, please let me know.

4. Speaking of Dinwoody Peak, if anyone has climbed that, or even been up Bonney Pass, how rough/loose is the terrain? I don't mind a steep class 2 climb, but I don't really want miles and miles of big talus or loose rock.

5. My understanding is that there are plentiful camping options around Cook Lakes, Indian Basin, and Island Lake. Is that correct? Is it hard to find a good campsite at any of these three areas? Is Island Lake often too crowded to find a good free site? (I'm assuming there won't be crowds in Indian Basin or Cook Lakes?) Is it easy to find campsites in these areas (particularly Indian Basin) that have natural protection from the elements? Are there good camping options around the Pole Creek Lakes if we don't make it all the way to Cook Lakes on Day 1? If anyone has any favorite campsites in these areas that you'd like to share, I'd appreciate it!

Thanks!
 

Lincsco

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
24
I'll help where I can. I haven't taken the pole creek trail into Cook Lakes but that strikes me as pretty long first day with heavy packs. I'm sure you can do it but get an early start. I've found that if storms are going to hit, they generally do so in the early afternoon.

I've taken a non-marked trail from cook, around the east side of wall, to where it joins with the marked trail by island lake. I remember it being pretty straightforward and easy to follow.

Spider lake is is pretty and there is a off-trail pass over into the Golden Lakes which are amazing. But if you haven't seen Titcomb, I would plan to spend my time in there.

I haven't been up Dinwoody or Bonney but please post a report if you do either.

There is great camping all along your route. There will surely be other people camped from the southeast end of Island all through Titcomb and probably up in Indian. However, the beauty generally outweighs the lack for solitude. I like camping in the middle of Titcomb, either in between the two large lakes or at the base of the southern one. There are other people but the views are amazing. There is also a little bluff on the West side of the lake that is worth climbing and watching the stars come out over the basin. On your last night, you can follow Island Lake to the northwest side where there are far fewer people and some great camping spots. You can also follow the drainage (which is also beautiful) down to Fremont crossing and hit the water slide on your way out. It's labeled on some maps or I can give you directions if you need it.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
215
Thanks for the reply Linsco! You said, "I like camping in the middle of Titcomb, either in between the two large lakes or at the base of the southern one". This sounds great to me, especially because it would cut some mileage off of the big Dinwoody Peak day hike (Day 4). Are there many campsite options in that area that have natural shelter/protection from the wind? I'm worried about camping in too exposed/high of a location, because I've only camped above treeline once or twice and I don't want to risk things in the middle of the Winds!
 

Lincsco

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
24
No, unfortunately there isn't much shelter in Titcomb. You're above tree line. Make sure you have extra guylines and stakes in case it gets windy. You may be able to find a spot behind a large rock but I wouldn't plan on it. Besides, the winds seem to shift oftentimes between afternoon/evening. They generally die down around night but you never know.

If you're looking for a more sheltered site, Island Lake is probably your closest option. Or, try the drainage between Island and Freemont Crossing. I've never slept there but I would like to. It's very sheltered and you're sure to have some good solitude.
 

OldBill

Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
157
I've made Upper Cook from Elkhart in 1 day on 2 separate Sept trips with 25lb pack. Early start and you're in camp by 3-4pm. Pay attention as trail sometimes disappears in the willows but it's easily found. Nice camping all over. Pole Ck crossing is usually easy this time of year. Many times water shoes aren't even necessary.

Cairns mark the way at Wall but locating them is sometimes difficult. Not a route I'd feel comfortable doing with wet rock but it's certainly only Class 2 at worst. I haven't gone beyond the inlet at Wall as I was fishing, but a few folks did pass by in that direction. Fairly well-traveled route, even at that time of year.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Nick Cook Lakes Loop, Wind Rivers Backpacking 9
HomerJ Wind Rivers 2010: Cook Lakes Backpacking 13
balzaccom Chinese cook helps create Yosemite General Discussion 0
12trysomething VIDEO: Light Weight Cook Kit Gear 0
Don Backpacking pot charges USB while you cook. General Discussion 6
Parma Sawtooth Loop: Redfish, Hell Roaring, Imogene, Edna, and Cramer Lakes Backpacking 13
NorthwestWanderer North Cascades NP : Dee Dee Lakes & the Mcallister Ledge Backpacking 0
NorthwestWanderer North Cascades - Cutthroat/Granite/snowy lakes passes Backpacking 3
Mountain Wanderer Cedar Lakes Loop in Montana's Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Backpacking 4
SteveR Headwall Lakes, Alberta Hiking & Camping 6
andyjaggy Deep Creek Lakes and Windriver Peak Trip Planning 6
norwegianxplorer Rae Lakes Loop, SEKI, June 2020 Backpacking 6
Matt Van Natta HELP: Wind River Range, Baker Lake to Green River Lakes Trip Planning 6
Dreamer Wind River Dreaming | Summer 2019 July 17 - July 29 | Green River Lakes - Elkhart Park Backpacking 13
Curt Lost Twin Lakes, Cloud Peak Wilderness, Wyoming Backpacking 16
McKee80 TR: Bear Lakes Basin Pine Creek TH 09-05/11-19 Backpacking 14
Pianomover Overnighter to Caribou lakes in the Trinity Alps. Backpacking 0
balzaccom Dinkey Lakes Trip Reports 2
fossana Bear Lakes > Royce Lakes overnighter (High Sierra) Backpacking 12
balzaccom Chain Lakes Backpacking 1
misSOULa Montana's Bitterroot Mountains: Big Creek Lakes and Ranger Point Backpacking 2
bdunn02 Stough Creek Basin via Twin Lakes Backpacking 7
Parma Idaho's White Cloud Mountains - Boulder Chain Lakes - Chamberlain Basin Backpacking 8
NorthwestWanderer Overnighter in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness : Ingalls Pass and Lake Ingalls Backpacking 9
Born to Hike Windriver 36 mile loop: Skull Lake, Washakie Pass, South Fork Lakes, Lizard Head Trail, The Cirque, Big Sandy Lake Backpacking 6
NorthwestWanderer Lyman Lakes, Glacier Peak Wilderness, WA Backpacking 12
NorthwestWanderer Yellow Aster Butte & Tomyhoi Lakes Basin, WA Hiking & Camping 11
MTNgoat OHV tails close to lakes Trip Planning 1
T Day Hike to Tatoosh Lakes and beyond Hiking & Camping 1
stevecochranephotography Blue Lakes Trail... Southwest Colorado in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness Hiking & Camping 9
Shirt357 Twin Crater Lakes - 0707-0708 Backpacking 5
L Red Castle Lakes / Wilson Peak OR Rock Creek Basin Trip Planning 4
Wanderlust073 South Colony Lakes overnight Backpacking 9
NorthwestWanderer Ancient Lakes & Dusty Lake, WA 4/28 - 4/30 Backpacking 2
DrNed Upper Henry's Fork Lakes Trip Planning 1
Jimmy BANFF: Fish/Devon Lakes/Pipestone Highline Backpacking 5
AbinadiWitness Part 1: Telluride Via Ferrata and Mount Sneffels SW Ridge from Blue Lakes- Colorado Trip # 1 - 2017 Backpacking 0
TrektheWorld Rawah Wilderness Camp Lakes to West Branch Loop Backpacking 3
scatman Mallard Lake and DeLacy Lakes, Yellowstone National Park - June 30,2017 Backpacking 6
S White Cloud route, Big Boulder Lakes to Boulder Chain Lakes Trip Planning 3
Luke High elevation uinta campgrounds/lakes General Discussion 9
K TR: 4/14 - 4/16 Nice Little Valley south of Mammoth Lakes,CA Backpacking 2
Perry Chain Lakes / Lake Atwood Trail to Painters Basin... What's It Like? Trip Planning 0
Kelin Best Route to Alpine Lakes? Trip Planning 4
Tim Valentine High Sierra Lakes Tour Backpacking 11
TrektheWorld Spectacle Lakes - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking & Camping 2
Ugly Morat Lakes over Labor Day Backpacking 8
scatman Trout Creek to Cygnet Lakes - Yellowstone National Park - July 6, 2016 Hiking & Camping 7
balzaccom Emigrant Wilderness: Emigrant and Huckleberry lakes Backpacking 0
andyjaggy Baptiste Lake to Bonneville Lakes Trip Planning 3

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top