How it came to be
General Trail Info
Other things to do
The Rail-Trail has a hard-packed gravel surface (like that found in a baseball outfield) averaging 10 feet wide.
It is suitable for mountain bikes or cycle-cross bikes (road bikes are not recommended).
Grades and curves are very gentle and suitable for users of varying abilities.
The trail is 21 miles from the Pelton Creek Trailhead in the south to the Dry Park Trailhead in the north.
The Pelton Creek, Woods Creek and Lake Owen Trailheads are open for use.
All three have accessible vault toilets and picnic tables. Lake Owen has a hand pump for water.
The outhouse at Lincoln Gulch was installed in summer 2008 - and it's a donation from Cycle Wyoming to the trail users.
|Beaver ponds are common along the Rail-Trail|
|Medicine Bow Peak can be seen from Lake Owen.|
To start at the northern-most trailhead on Dry Creek Road, head west out of Laramie on U.S. Highway 130. After 22 miles, turn south (left) on Wyoming Highway 11, toward Albany. After 8.5 miles, turn southeast (left) onto Woods Landing Road, following the signs to Lake Owen. After 3.5 miles the road divides; continue straight onto Forest Road 517 and go 3.5 miles to the Dry Creek Road trailhead. This trailhead is little more than a dirt and gravel wide spot in the road and is not marked. The rail-trail entrance is on the south (left) side of the road, heading south toward Lake Owen. Another option is to continue on Dry Creek Road about 2.5 miles, following the signs to Lake Owen. This takes you to the Lake Owen trailhead.
To start at the southern end at the Woods Creek or Pelton Creek trailheads, head out of Laramie on U.S. Highway 230. After 25 miles you’ll enter Medicine Bow National Forest. Continue on the highway another 6.5 miles to the Woods Creek trailhead, located on the south (left) side of the highway. If you prefer to start at the southernmost end point, continue another 7.5 miles down the highway to the Pelton Creek trailhead. Just after crossing the Wyoming-Colorado state line, turn north (right) on Forest Road 898. The trailhead is one mile down this gravel road.
A daily fee ($5) or season pass ($30) is required for parking at the five developed trailheads; parking at the Dry Creek Road trailhead is free.
|Moose are common along the trail. Give them plenty of space!|
For lodging with a western theme closer to the trail, check out the accommodations in and around Centennial.
The Mountain View Historic Hotel (and restaurant) is especially welcoming to cyclists, since the owner is an avid pedaler. The rooms are furnished in a western motif and the restaurant is complete with espresso coffee bar; www.themountainviewhotel.com, 888.400.9953, 307.742.5476.
Centennial Valley Trading Post has a two upstairs rooms and a restaurant, 307.721.5074.
The Old Corral (and restaurant) offers a more traditional motel atmosphere, www.oldcorral.com, 307.745.5918, 800.678.2024
The Vee Bar, about 10 miles east of Centennial, has bed and breakfast accommodations, http://www.veebar.com/index.html, 800.483.3227.
Mountain Meadow Cabins offers individual mountain cabins where you fix your own meals, www.mtnmeadowcabins.com, 307.742.6042;
Snowy Mountain Lodge has refurbished cabins and a restaurant, www.snowymountainlodge.com, 307.742.7669.
The WyColo Lodge (and restaurant), www.wycololodge.com, 888. RMK.2006, is in the cabin community of Mountain Home and is especially popular in the winter with the snowmobile crowd.
In Albany, try Albany Lodge (and restaurant) , www.albanylodge.com, 307.745.5782.
You can find dispersed camping –camping outside of a campground – throughout Medicine Bow National Forest; sites are especially numerous along the road to Lake Owen. There are a number of National Forest campgrounds in the vicinity; those closest to the trail are Lake Owen and Miller Lake.
For more camping information check the Medicine Bow National Forest Website
|A group of road cyclists pedal "up top" on Highway 130 in the Snowy Range|
For a spectacular up-close view of Medicine Bow Peak, follow the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, 29 miles along U.S. Highway 130 from Centennial to Saratoga. You’ll pass Mirror Lake and beneath Medicine Bow Peak. There’s a trail up to the peak; it takes about three hours and is quite strenuous due to the high elevation and steep terrain, but at the top you’ll be rewarded with views at least 100 miles in all directions. Once in Saratoga, take some time off to soak in the hot springs.
Step back into the time of Butch Cassidy and the Wild West as you wander through the restored 1872 prison at Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site in Laramie. The site features other buildings as well, and hosts special events such as 1800s-style baseball games, a horse barn theater, and the Butch Cassidy Days.
“There were two main reasons the Forest Service got involved,” he says. “First, the railroad bed structure was in good shape and we wanted to put it to public use. Second, the community support for the project was overwhelming, in both enthusiasm and dollars.” Working with the Laramie Bicycling Network, Cycle Wyoming, the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the City of Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities, and the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities, Kyhl’s team raised more than $1 million, which was used to resurface the rail-trail, repair culverts and clean up debris along the corridor. In addition, the money funded construction of five trailheads—all with parking lots and four with restrooms—and a mile-long circuit trail at Lake Owen with a handicap-accessible fishing pier.
The Hahn’s Peak and Pacific Railroad, between Laramie, Wyo., and Coalmont, Colo., first hauled gold and then expanded to transport livestock, timber and coal as well. The rail corridor “really was a marvel of engineering when it was constructed in the early 1900s,” says historian James Lowe. “At 9,050 feet, this was the highest elevation standard gauge railroad in the country. There are ‘muleshoe’ loops coming out of the town of Albany that allowed trains to scale the steep grade.” (That section is on private land and not currently part of the rail-trail.) Such engineering achievements are one reason the corridor is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The railroad operation was abandoned in 1996, and in 1999 the rails and ties were removed. Debris littered the corridor but the route itself was in excellent shape. Now the corridor is cleaned up, although rail stakes and other bits and pieces of the former life of the trail can still be found. Outside the corridor, there is little evidence of the bustling commerce once associated with the railroad. Train depots and other structures are long gone, except for the refurbished depot in Centennial that houses the Nici Self Museum.
The caboose, which was donated by WyColo Railroad, the last railway operator, rests on a short section of track at the Lake Owen trailhead. Eventually the Forest Service hopes to open the caboose for overnight stays. Today, picnic tables at the trailhead invite visitors to stop and enjoy the mountain setting.
|Motorized travel is not allowed on the trail but is a constant problem.|
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