One of the most alluring aspects of visiting the Snowy Mountain Range is the abundance of alpine lakes you will find there. There are so many beautiful lakes in the Range that it will take multiple visits to see each one. The Snowy Range Scenic byway starts 30 miles west of Laramie, just past the charming mountain town of Centennial. This will be the starting point for your tour of the alpine lakes. Be sure to stop at the Visitors Center at the base of the mountain to get your maps and information for hiking, skiing, fishing, and ORV. Whether you're an intrepid hiker seeking adventure or someone yearning to bask in the awe-inspiring beauty of the great outdoors, the alpine lakes of the Snowy Mountain Range are ready to weave their spell and leave you captivated.
Accessible Alpine Lakes
Lake Marie and Mirror Lake
There are several alpine lakes in the Snowy Mountain Range that you can enjoy from the comfort of your car. The most popular and accessible area is Lake Marie and Mirror Lake. You will find Lake Marie 13 miles from the Medicine Bow Visitors Center on the right-hand side of the road. From the parking area, there is a ½ mile paved path that will take you around the lake and connect to the Mirror Lake picnic and parking area. Mirror Lake is also accessible by car and is a great place to fish, picnic, and explore by nonmotorized watercraft.
Libby Lake and Lewis Lake
From the Welcome Center, drive 11 miles up the Snowy Range Scenic Byway to Sugarloaf Recreation Area. There you will find two more alpine lakes that are accessible by car. The first is Libby Lake at the base of Sugarloaf Peak. You can stop for a quiet picnic and a bit of fishing in the crystal clear water. Libby Lake is filled with splake, cutthroat, and brown trout. Follow the road a ¼ mile further down to Lewis Lake. Lewis Lake is just steps from the parking lot and you can see most of the Snowy Range Peaks from the shore. Lewis Lake is a great place to bring your canoe or paddleboard for a day on the water and has four different species of trout in its pristine water.
Brooklyn Lake Road is a maintained dirt road that leads to two alpine lakes and several trailheads that lead to more. You will encounter Little Brooklyn Lake on the left-hand side of the road. You can park above the lake to marvel at the beauty of this lake nestled into the mountain or hike the short path down the shore. While there, take some time to stop at St. Alban’s Chapel directly across the road from Little Brooklyn Lake. St. Alban’s Chapel sits at over 10,000 ft and is a small open-air chapel that hosts weddings and weekly worship in the summer months. Further up Brooklyn Lake Road is Brooklyn Lake and campground. The small parking area offers the best views of the lake and the impressive Browns Peak behind it. Brooklyn Lake is one of the larger alpine lakes and offers a great place for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.
Gap Lakes Trail
If you are feeling more adventurous, there are many alpine lakes in the Snowy Range accessible only by hiking in. One of the finest and most scenic routes is the Gaps Lake trail. Gaps Lake trail is considered a moderate hike with over 700 ft of elevation gain. You will pass many smaller lakes on your way and have to scramble over several boulder fields on your way. Starting from the Lewis Lake parking area, it is a 1-mile hike to South Gap Lake and 2 miles to North Gap. From here you can decide whether to take the right fork up to the four Shelf Lakes and fish for golden trout or continue straight to Cutthroat and Deep Lake. Because of the high elevation and winter conditions, this trail system is not often open until mid July and closes in mid Novemeber when the Scenic Byway closes for winter.
If you are looking for a less-traveled but equally beautiful hike, try the Lost Lake trail. Starting from the Sugarloaf Recreation Area it is a 2-mile hike to Lost Lake. You will pass 7 other lakes on your way including Pinchot, Telephone, Brady, and Sandy Lakes. This moderate trail will lead you through tall pine trees and frequent wildlife sightings. As with all trails in the Snowy Range, make sure you are bear-aware and know wildlife safety protocols.