Corner Mountain Trails
  • Location: Medicine Bow National Forest, Snowy Range, just west of Centennial, WY
  • Access: From Centennial, continue west on Hwy 130 for 2.5 miles, and park on the south side of the highway at the well-signed Corner Mt TH Parking.
  • Maps: USGS quad Centennial, though this map is not current on trails. I've posted a trail map with mileage here.
  • Trailhead: UTM NAD83 z13 403075e 4575404n 8520í; Campgrounds near Barber Lake on FR 351D have their own access to this network. See the map.
  • Trails: Two loops, the Corner Mt Loop and the Camp Loop, intersect at various points, and several campgrounds have their own access trails on the south side of the trail network. The result is a rather confusing network of trails comprising a bit over 4 miles of marked trail routes. Luckily, all trails are well marked with blue blazes and signs accompany most intersections. None of the trails are difficult. Most show limited use. Numerous loops are possible. The most likely loop, the Corner Mt Loop that starts and ends on Hwy 130, is 3 miles long with an elevation change of >300 ft. 
  • Fees: $5/car to park
  • Dogs: OK, no posted leash law
  • Weather: National Weather Service Forecast


October 16, 2011

Itís a nice October morning, strangely warm. What to do with such a day? Spend it on the couch reading a good book? Watching a great movie on  DVD? Treadmilling at the gym? Of course not. The only sensible thing to be doing on what has to be one of the final warm days of 2011 is to be out in the forest, stepping out in long strides, crunching fallen aspen leaves definitively on the dry trail under Vibram soled boots, enjoying the flickering sunlight through the naked tree trunks in the woods, fueled by a sun that has sunk far too low on the southern horizon to mistake the season for anything but fall. The crisp air is invigorating. The silence is captivating. Thereís no where Iíd rather be on a Sunday than where I am now, in the Medicine Bow National Forest of southeast Wyoming, checking out a trail network Iíve never seen before. 

Makenzie and Henry are with me. Poor Henry gets so excited he literally quivers as I let him out of the car.  I knot an orange bandana around their necks before they race down the trail from the parking area, slobbering and frothing like the mad hounds of hell. I slide a day-glo orange vest over my backpack and sport a cool orange ball cap myself. Weíre off. The trail is typical of the area, as it runs through a forest dominated by lodgepole pine that are mostly dead, compliments of our friends, the bark beetles. Aspen trees make frequent appearances, although by this time of year, most of the brilliant yellow leaves of September are gone. Henry and Makenzie trot along at the limit of my observation. On a busy trail, such distances would make me nervous, but as my car was the only one in the lot, Iím fairly confident I wonít see many folks. I do encounter a couple walking not far from the TH, but as they also have dogs on the loose, nobody is worried. 

It seems odd to be walking at 8300í in mid-October without even a hint of snow on the ground. The sun angle is very low, and the weak light it sends down through a high cirrus cloud layer is white and pale. The air has the unmistakable feel of fall. Maybe itís the smell of old aspen leaves on the trail, or something the pines put out, but the air even seems to smell like fall. I think of apple pie, warm cider, egg nog and hot coffee. We tromp on, following the Corner Mt Loop to its intersection with the Camp Loop. With my GPS on, I take every right turn in the trail that I come to, backtracking each time I reach a road or a campground. Most campgrounds are empty. I only see a couple of campers parked in the area, though the forest is thick and can easily give cover to many campers. Most of the woods near the campgrounds is filled with dead pines that have blue slashes painted on them, meaning they will shortly be cut for timber. There are disappointingly few pines that have no marks. 

Near one of the campground spur trails we come upon a shallow pond and the dogs jump right in. The pond is not quite right. It has no outlet, but sits in a depression in the shaded forest. One would think it had always been there, yet large dead pine trees stand in the water, along with green aspen. Itís apparently wet enough to kill all the pines, or did they all die because of bark beetles? And, itís not wet enough to kill the aspen, even though they are currently in a foot of water at the end of the dry season. Most things in the forest quickly make sense, and you can read the story from the evidence at hand. For this little pond, I can make out no such simple story. It just doesnít make sense to me. 

Through taking every right turn and finding out where it goes, I finally arrive back at the trailhead, and a final reckoning of the trail network. Itís not as large as I had always imagined. Itís pleasant, but not thrilling. Itís the kind of trail you stroll on without a purpose, as opposed to trying to summit a mountain. 

Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network

Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network
Corner Mountain Trail Network

 


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Page created 12-8-11
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