Popo Agie Falls


Location: Shoshone National Forest, Sinks Canyon, west of Lander, Wyoming in the Wind River Mountains
Access: From Lander, take 5th street west to the end of the road, then turn right on Sinks Canyon Rd and drive about 9 miles to Bruces Parking Area. 
Trail: Easy, 1.5-mile walk along the Middle Fork Popo Agie River along well-marked trail to falls. The Middle Fork Trail continues beyond that to wilderness options.
Trailhead: UTM NAD83 zone 12 675391e 4732973n 7146'
Maps: USGS 1:24K Cony Mt; Fossil Hill
Fees: None
Dogs: Voice control
Webcam: 10 miles northeast in downtown Lander
Weather:Current Conditions    Local Forecast

June 16, 2008
My work depends a lot on the weather. Aerial surveys from light aircraft canít be done safely in high winds or high turbulence, so when Joe, the pilot, says thatís enough, weíre done for the day. After such an event one fine June afternoon, I took the free time with me up Sinks Canyon to Bruceís Parking Area, which was as far as I could go given the road construction on the Louis Lake Road, now entering its 3rd year. I parked the car amidst a row of construction worker trucks, and threw my pack on my back as I headed to the TH across the rippling white caps of the swollen Popo Agie River. May 2008 in Wyoming was an amazingly wet time, with many places getting more rain for the month than ever before. Lander got a lot of rain, and the evidence of this month-long deluge was the yellow carpet of balsamroot flowers that lined the canyon. Flowers by the millions, including a healthy helping of white phlox, purple delphinium and lupine and pink geranium made this otherwise scenic trail simply phenomenal. I started off at a brisk pace that was soon lost as I stopped to snap photos of the show. Progress continued to be slow with the beautiful roaring river to my left, and carpets of flowers leading to imposing granite cliffs to my right. The trail followed the river in the narrow canyon for about a mile, then began climbing up the north side of the canyon to a junction with a spur trail leading to an overlook of Popo Agie Falls. I took this path to a shallow hump that provided a nice spot to sit and watch the Popo Agie River fling itself over a cliff, with resulting water cascading down gullies in silver rivulets and sheets across an area of several hundred feet. I continued on the path downhill a little to a spot where the main body of the river fell a dozen feet or so over boulders in a frothing fury of white water. Sunlight at the spray at the bottom of the falls caused a rainbow. It was all very nice. I sat and enjoyed it for about 20 minutes before moving on. 

I returned to the fork in the trail and decided to head uphill, away from the trailhead. Immediately the trail turned to mush, and I plodded on through wet muck, glad I wore my boots. After only about 1/8 mile, I felt pretty drowsy, so I pulled off the trail and into the woods to find a nice aspen grove to sit and read in. I read for about 2 pages, then felt the irresistible urge to lay down in the soft grass with my head on a thin log. I was snoring in minutes and was out for about half an hour. Napping in the woods when there are no bugs around is awesome. Time well spent. I awoke refreshed, noting the slight change in the color of the sunlight, and decided I better just head back down to the car. I took the walk back no faster than the walk up, taking more photographs of flowers and the river from different angles than before. Taking the time to stop and take pictures has its primary benefit in stopping the hiker and forcing lengthy contemplation of the surroundings. I encountered several groups of hikers on the walk down, even a couple of guys fishing the river. I had my fly rod with me, but I couldnít see much chance of catching something on a dry fly when the water was nothing but furious white water. Plus, I had fun enough just walking and seeing the flowers. 

Popo Agie Falls
Popo Agie Falls
Popo Agie Falls
Popo Agie Falls trail

Popo Agie Falls Trail
Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers along the Popo Agie Falls trail
Popo Agie Falls Trail
Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers along the Popo Agie Falls trail
Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers along the Popo Agie Falls trail
Popo Agie Falls trail
Popo Agie Falls trail
Popo Agie Falls
Popo Agie Falls
Popo Agie Falls
Popo Agie Falls
Popo Agie Falls
Popo Agie Falls trail


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