The Laramie area has tons of great trails. Vedauwoo Recreation Area, Happy Jack Area, Pole Mountain Recreation Area, and Curt Gowdy State Park have a variety of trails perfect for hiking and biking, or accessing fishing, climbing, or boating opportunities. Curt Gowdy State Park encompasses three reservoirs that are wonderful for fishing, boating, kayaking, or paddleboarding. Vedauwoo has a beautiful campground and some of the most stunning rock formations in Wyoming. The entire area is full of unique flora and fauna, including, moose, deer, beavers, birds, and mountain lions. Explore these Top 6 Hiking Trails East of Laramie.
Best for Kids
Beautiful and secluded Hidden Falls (photo credit Brittany Thompson)
There are many great trails that kids will love throughout Curt Gowdy, Vedauwoo, and the Pole Mountain/ Happy Jack Area. Crow Creek Trail to Hidden Falls in Curt Gowdy State Park is a wonderful trail for a short day hike. The 3.6-mile, out-and-back trail is a relatively easy hike. There are beautiful views and interesting terrain changes throughout the trail. The trail begins near the causeway wear Crow Creek meets Granite Springs Reservoir. The first part of the hike has stunning views of the water, before entering a gorgeous forest. The best part of the trail is, of course, the view of Hidden Falls at the end.
This is a great hike to do on a hot day, as there is an opportunity to wade in the creek near the falls. In fact, plan on getting your feet wet to get the best view of the falls. The hike is easy enough that kids can complete it. And, even the most reluctant hiker will be excited to see the falls at the end of the trail.
Best Landscape Views
Breathtaking view of the Happy Jack/ Pole Mountain Area from Headquarters Trail (photo credit Leah Veinbergs)
The terrain throughout the Vedauwoo and Pole Mountain Areas is spectacular. Massive rock formations of Precambrian granite dot the rolling landscape. Hillsides are blanketed with aspen groves and pine forests. The Headquarters Trail offers gorgeous views of the Happy Jack/ Pole Mountain Area. The view is particularly stunning in the fall when the aspens transform to shimmering gold or in the early summer when wildflowers are in full bloom.
The trail is accessed from either the Summit Trailhead Parking or the Headquarters Trailhead Parking. The entire Headquarters Trail is 4 miles long, but it intersects with many other trails as well. This trail is relatively easy for all ages and abilities.
Best Water Views
If sparkling water views are what you’re after, another great trail in Curt Gowdy State Park is the Shoreline Trail. The Trail skirts the southern edge of Granite Springs Reservoir for much of its 2.6-mile length. There are beautiful views, sandy beaches, and opportunities for fishing, kayaking, or paddle boarding. Note that Granite Springs Reservoir does not allow swimming. This path is also near several campgrounds.
Best For Wildlife Viewing
A moose drinking from a pond in Vedauwoo (photo credit Rebecca Reagan of Becky's Photo Adventures)
Wildlife abounds throughout Vedauwoo, and moose sightings are not uncommon, especially near water. The loop made by Skeleton Trail, Devil’s Playground Trail, and Cow Trail, in the Vedauwoo area, provides some wonderful opportunities for birding and viewing other wildlife. Much of the trail follows Middle Crow Creek, and where there is water there is often wildlife. There are several beaver damns along this trail as well.
Access the trail by parking at the Blair Picnic Area. Follow Cow Trail to Devil’s Playground Trail. Take Devil’s Playground north to Skeleton Trail, which will intersect with Cow Trail again near the parking area. The loop is 6.5 miles.
Best Mountain Biking
Ok, it's too hard to pick just one. The Happy Jack, Pole Mountain, and Vedauwoo recreation areas are chock full of great mountain bike trails. They literally weave all over the entire area. Finding the exact right trail is about matching the skill level of the rider and the rider’s personal preferences with the available terrain. That being said, the Curt Gowdy Trail System is a network of over 35 miles of trails. The varying terrain and technical skill areas earned the Curt Gowdy System the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) designation of “Epic.”
Another very popular option is the Pilot Hill Project which connects the foothills just east of Laramie to the mountains of the Pole Mountain and Happy Jack areas. This network of trails can be accessed from both in Laramie and off of Happy Jack Road.
Amazing rock formations seen from Turtle Rock Loop (photo credit Leah Veinbergs)
Turtle Rock Loop, in Vedauwoo Recreation Area, is definitely one of the most popular trails in the entire area. The 3.4-mile trail is easily accessible from the Turtle Rock Trailhead. There is ample parking and picnic areas nearby. Turtle Rock Loop traverses varied terrain of interesting rock formations, forests, creeks, and ponds. There is some elevation gain, but the trail is easy enough for beginners and is popular with mountain bikers as well.
There are certainly many opportunities to enjoy nature in the Vedauwoo, Happy Jack, Pole Mountain, and Curt Gowdy areas. The popular and well-maintained trails bring hikers and bikers up close and personal with stunning rock formations, waterfalls, and wildlife. Plan your camping trip or day hike today.
You may also enjoy these other blog posts: Best Places for Viewing Wildlife in the Laramie Area, Vedauwoo: Land of the Earth-Born Spirit, Epic Mountain Biking at Curt Gowdy State Park, Top 5 Hiking Trails West of Centennial, and Top 5 Tips for Hiking with Kids in the Laramie Area.