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Q: Do you have ideas for great backpacking trails in the Flaming Gorge area of Wyoming? We will be with two children (eight and ten years old). Thanks!
A: On the Wyoming side of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, the backpacking routes are cross-country rambles through red rock canyons and badlands—not the kind of landscape that’s likely to impress an eight-year-old. What I’d recommend instead is heading across the border to Utah, where the other side of Flaming Gorge has clearly marked trails that lead to comfortable, shady camping spots with plenty of water (and fishing) nearby. The area around Brownie Lake is a great option. From Manila, take Highway 44 south to the bottom of the Sheep Creek Geological Loop and follow the signs to the lake. There’s a parking lot at trailhead #017. For maps and info call the district ranger’s office: 435-784-3445.
For a Wyoming adventure that’s not so kid-friendly, you should try the Popo Agie Wilderness in the southern Wind River Mountains. There’s a weeklong backpacking loop that follows the Popo Agie River to Wind River Peak (13,192 feet). After rock-hopping your way to a popular waterfall, you’ll walk through meadows to trout-filled alpine lakes that sit in the shadow of the surrounding peaks. The route ends with a cross-country, non-technical climb to the summit. For maps and info contact the Washakie Ranger District in Lander: 307-332-5460.