Cirque of the Towers Trail

HARD 30 reviews
#1 of 42 trails in

Cirque of the Towers Trail is a 18 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Boulder, Wyoming that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, horses, and backpacking and is best used from June until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
18.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,726 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

hiking

horseback riding

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

rocky

scramble

snow

From Pinedale, drive south on Hwy 191. At Boulder, turn left on Hwy 353 and drive 18 miles to the end of the pavement. Shorty after the pavement ends, go straight through the junction, and drive south crossing the Big Sandy River (Buckskin Crossing). At next junction, turn left (east) and drive 7 miles. Turn left at the following jct and follow the main road to the Big Sandy Campground and trailhead. This trailhead is remote, so be sure to have a full tank of gas.

hiking
7 days ago

This hike was magnificent. I recommend starting before 10am if you want to do the whole thing in a day. I didn't come across many mosquitos at all. Weather was beautiful and the lake is a great place to stop and take a dip in before or after taking on the steep part of the trail. I will definitely be coming back here for a camping trip.

hiking
22 days ago

Just finished this hike early today. We did the loop with a night at Big Sandy and the second night at Dads lake.

The Cirque is a great spot, but stopping there is a mistake. Views from Texas Pass are amazing and a great sense of accomplishment accompanied summiting. Shadow Lake and Dads lake are also gems that would be missed if not doing the loop.

In the 25 miles trail navigation difficulty was only an issue at Lonesome Lake/Texas Pass area as cairns seem to be all over. However, this was also a highlight for my wife who loved scrambling through boulders. You will work hard to get to top, just to look down and see that your heading straight down. BUT it’s well worth it.

This hike offers streams, lakes, peaks, forests, wild flowers everywhere. Only thing we missed out on seeing was wildlife.

**As for mosquitos, I only had a problem when I didn’t spray. When I sprayed they seemed to leave me alone.

1 month ago

We did the out and back in a day, 4th of July week, last few miles back we were dragging ass but for us Floridians that get to the mountains twice a year it was an accomplishment, lol. the squitters, if working together, could've picked me up and taken me away but like I said we're from Florida so we've encountered these swarms before. Repellent repellent! Absolutely beautiful and we can't wait to come back and spend a few days, and nights, exploring the side trails!

hiking
1 month ago

WORD OF WARNING - hiked from Big Sandy to Dad's Lake on July 4th. There were CLOUDS of mosquitos, hundreds, thousands... more mozzies than I've ever seen. Even with face nets and clothes on head-to-toe it was unbearable.

hiking
1 month ago

Did the loop. Great and also brutal in one day. Took trail to right and over Jackass Ridge. Eventually passed over Texas Pass. Would recommend starting fro the Shadow lake side. Very steep down Texas ridge into next valley. Slid out of control with full backpack on snow. If you see streaks of blood, carnage and a broken pole that was me. Luckily it ended up ok but recommend bring a friend. Quite muddy on Shadow lake side, Dad's Lake area. Beware mosquitoes especially around 6 pm. Deadly. I saw a pack of them pick up a child and fly away. In any case so beautiful.

2 months ago

Stunning, well worth it

4 months ago

Breathtaking. The best hike of my life.

11 months ago

Amazing place. But instead of out and back, consider doing a loop hike, traveling in though Shadow Lake and over Texas Pass sand out via Big Sandy Lake. While climbing Texas Pass is no picnic, we thought it was considerably easier than climbing Jackass Pass from Big Sandy.

11 months ago

An absolutely spectacular hike. The views are incredible.

11 months ago

Did an overnight out and back hike to Cirque of the Towers in August. The views and the hike was amazing, but also very strenuous. The trail is pretty level to Big Sandy Lake, but then rapidly climbs in elevation from there. It should be known though that once you pass Big Sandy, the trail can be very difficult to follow at times as it gets rockier. Some kind souls have set up rock cairns to mark a route, we tried to follow these but still managed to get off track a few times.
On the way to the Cirque we kept to the right of Arrowhead Lake and encountered a snow field. We crossed without harm, but I won't be doing it again unless I have proper equipment. On the way out however, the snowfield had frozen over and was much more slick than the previous day so we talked to some people who had went the opposite way around Arrowhead lake which involved a whole lot of scrambling over large boulders. We decided this would be the safer way and descended down to there. There is not trail so you have to navigate your own way over the large boulders, this was very time consuming.

Although the trail was very hard and demanding, it really required you to think and was quite a challenge, which I love. As I'm sure you have already heard, the mosquitos are terrible, bring a lot of bug spray and wear it even if your clothes cover your skin, as they bite through them. Get started early enough to give yourself enough time to explore your camp, next time I will be making this a 3 day trip because I would have liked to have spent more time doing so.
Truly breathtaking views and an amazing experience that made all of the challenges worth it!

backpacking
Saturday, August 05, 2017

Amazing 3 day backpack loop in late July with overnight stops at Shadow Lake and Big Sandy Lake. Can't say enough about it - highly recommend! Plenty of snow, water crossings, and misquitos but nothing compared to the fantastic trails, views, waterfalls, lakes, mountains, peaks, wild flowers and adventure. We took yaktrax for snow, but didnt need them - hiking poles were enough for us. Took the wrong path around Arrowhead Lake - don't recommend the boulder side unless you enjoy that experience with backpacks :-(. Breathe it in and enjoy!

backpacking
Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Did a 3 day loop July 28-30 from the Big Sandy Trailhead to Shadow Lake over Texas Pass into the Cirque then out over Jackass Pass back to the car. Even late in July, snow made the passes pretty intense and the mosquitoes were bad. We agreed that doing the loop in reverse (Big Sandy up Jackass Pass) would have been much, much harder. I'd rather go up, than down, a very steep, snowy pass (Texas Pass). And, there was a pretty tough part going down Jackass pass to Big Sandy Lake that I was glad I was going down rather than up. The area is popular for a reason, but we found plenty of peace and quiet despite the many people we met on the trail. Overall, this was the most stunning and amazing hike and I loved it.

Oh, also there is a sign posted at the trail head that there are habituated black bears near many of the lakes where camping is popular (e.g., Marm's, Shadow, Cirque, etc.) It says that bears can cut down the ropes of bags hanging from trees, so bear cans are highly recommended. What were we to do? We were already 2 hours into the sticks so we were stuck with our bear bag. It all worked out, but we wish we had known in advance.

backpacking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

Did the loop big sandy to jack ass ( shortcut over arrowhead.. not so short as we were heading to texas) over texas pass and around by marms dads etc. great hike liked this route as easier trail when tired but as of july 22 be aware lots o snow arrowhead on and texas pass to texas lake yikes steep and snowy bring your micro spikes wish we had. bugs were ok not great but lots of river crossings from shadow lake to parking lot bring extra socks :) we went to bug sandy then texas lake then out long last day but honestly easier then big sandy to texas. Cirque was awesome highly recommend

backpacking
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Did this over 4th of July weekend, we started from the Dad's lake side, following the shadow lake trail to form a backpacking loop. Hardest things:
1. Very wet trail with a lot of stream crossings (lost one trekking pole cuz the water is too fast)
2. Sooo much snow over Texas pass, we were the first group to pass and a lot of backpackers turned around. It's doable with microspikes
3. Crazy amount of mosquitos near big sandy lake and anywhere lower, I'd suggest camping at Dee lake, shadow lake to avoid them
But! Still a gorgeous hike.

hiking
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Partially hiked this on June 27. The mosquitoes and stream crossings were miserable this early in the year, and there was way too much snow to safely finish the hike.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beautiful hike. Still covered in snow though, and theres no tree markers so it takes some effort and awareness to hike it right now. But the views are to die for.

hiking
Friday, August 26, 2016

We hiked into the Cirque coming from Texas pass and Shadow lake. Texas pass is a hard climb but relatively short coming from Texas lake. From the pass it's a long decent to Lonesome lake an incredible jewel surrounded by colossal diamond peaks. Mere words do not describe the feeling of being there. The peaks rise over 2000 ft above Lonesome Lake. Hiking out over Jackass Pass was relatively easy as most of the time we were descending although it is steep and would be difficult to come in from Big Sandy Lake to Jackass pass. Put this trail on your Life list! We did meet quite a few people on the trail and TH parking was beyond full. It is a vast area and you should be able to find a quiet place. @backpackerneil

Thursday, August 18, 2016

First 6 miles are relatively easy following along the Big Sandy River. You reach Big Sandy Lake and begin your ascent at the trailhead above the lake. Big Sandy Lake is a beautiful destination in itself. We camped there and hiked to the Cirque the next day. After your first ascent up from the lake you cross a meadow then descend to North Creek where you cross the creek. Then you follow a sketchy trail through a boulder field also marked by cairns. It runs along the east side of North Creek and North Lake. I understand there may also be a trail that goes high up over the boulder field.
You come out at the head of North Lake, beautiful, and on the west side of the lake make your second ascent. There is a fork in the trail as you hike along above North Lake. Definitely take the right or east fork up and around Arrowhead Lake. We did both trails and the left or west fork takes you around the lake thru a talus field and some difficult bouldering on the upper west side of Arrowhead. From the head of the lake you ascend 100 yards up to the rim of the Cirque. Amazing, jaw dropping views!

hiking
Sunday, November 10, 2013

After being on my wish-list for 45 years I finally made it into one of the most incredible and beautiful places that I have every been. I have hiked and backpacked over 1,400 miles in Utah, Wyoming and this place stands out as the most beautiful. Words or pictures can't describe it sufficiently.

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

Sunday, September 25, 2016

backpacking
Monday, July 25, 2016

hiking
Wednesday, September 09, 2015