a short piece describing the trails to Christina Lake in the Wind River Range, Wyoming
Christina Lake lies in the southern end of the Wind River Range in Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming. The lake is most commonly accessed from three different trail heads found along Louis Lake Road (National Forest road #300) or the “Loop Road” as it is known locally. Louis Lake Road intersects Hwy 28 on South Pass near South Pass City. Once on Louis Lake Road the trail heads are clearly marked. Topographic maps showing trails and other important features are available from several sporting goods stores in Lander.
For ATV’s or other off-road vehicles take Motorized vehicle road #355 from Grannier Meadows. It is about eight miles to the lake. Road #355 is a very rough road with large boulders, steep hills and a somewhat tricky river crossing. The best route across the river changes year to year and a good winch is recommended. Tipping over and high-centering are very real possibilities; your vehicle is going to take a lot of abuse. Note the number of oil pan scars on the large rocks. This route is for experienced operators.
National Forest hiking trail #724 trail head is at Louis Lake Lodge right across from Louis Lake; this trail gains fifteen hundred feet elevation in two miles with the majority in the first mile. It is a beautiful hike but the trail is steep with loose dirt, sand, countless rocks (watch footing) and downed trees until it joins Motorized vehicle rd. #355. Approximately four miles to Christina Lake, this route is well worn and clear. If chosen allow plenty of time because it involves very steep climb for the first mile. After about three miles this trail will cross a small river. The width, depth and current fluctuate with the season. I’d recommend a good level of fitness for this trail.
The most common and easiest hiking trail is National Forest trail #721 with the trail head just south of Fiddlers Lake. The trail alternates uphill and downhill but the runs are not as long or steep as #724.This trail is approximately 4 miles to Christina Lake and is well worn and clear. Orange triangles about 3” tall are nailed to trees marking the trail, while 2 signs point the direction to Christina Lake. This trail is rocky and has a lot of dead fall across the trail, but is easily navigated. The trail involves 3 stream crossings; they are slower moving, generally less than knee deep and can be crossed in 5-8 steps for the average male. When crossing streams up here, always use caution especially during snow melt. Most of the water comes from glaciers or snowmelt and it is crystal clear and cold. The water is NOT safe to drink without filtration. If hiking these trails allow 2-4 hours each way depending on your fitness and acclimation to altitude. Trail heads are at approximately 9000’ above sea level and the lake is approximately 10,000’ above sea level.
Deer, elk, and moose are common. Bears also inhabit the area, so take precautions (bear spray), make noise by talking or singing and follow recommended food storage. Be alert when fishing. I have never had a problem with a bear but it’s still a good idea to be ready to ditch any fish you have caught.
Christina Lake is a large lake by alpine standards, very near the tree line with great views of several peaks in the Wind River Range. A lot of shore line and not many people make this lake a good back country destination for hiking, fishing and camping. Expect to catch Brooke and Lake Trout from this lake. The fish run a little smaller than average due to high altitude and cold temperatures. The fishing is rated fair to good and the scenery is beautiful. All legal forms of fishing are allowed at Christina Lake, but it’s a good idea to check the regulations before heading out.