Slide Lake - Backpacking

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Summary

Take a short, mellow hike along Green River Lake to Slide Creek Falls, then through lush meadows to a steep section of switchbacks along Slide Creek to reach Slide Lake, one of the hidden gems of the Bridger Wilderness.

Written by

Daniel Fladager

Distance

12.0 miles

6 miles to Slide Lake and six miles back to the car. The optional hike out to Natural Bridge adds about 1.5 miles to the trip.

Destination Distance From Downtown

41.5 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

A nice, flat hike leads to a grueling 1,300-foot climb up switchbacks to a stunning and remote backcountry lake.

Time To Complete

2 days

Though this hike could be done in a day, it's much more enjoyable to spend the night at Slide Lake.

Seasonality

Summer

Early summer is the best time to go if you want to see the wildflowers, but the trail through the meadow can be slushy. Slide Lake is most striking when the surrounding mountains still have snow on them.

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

If you are an organized group (Boy Scouts, Church groups, School groups), you need a permit for overnight trips anywhere in the Bridger Wilderness. These permits are free and available at the Bridger-Teton National Forest office in Pinedale.

Review

Intro

A mellow, lakeside hike takes you through rolling meadows and past Slide Creek Falls before continuing up a long set of switchbacks with views of the aptly named Slide Creek, with the final payoff being a night at one of the most beautiful campsites in the Bridger Wilderness. 

What Makes It Great

Standing on the sandy shores of Slide Lake and staring across the calm, reflective waters at Lost Eagle Peak isn’t the only draw for this gem of a backpacking trip. Starting at the Green River Lakes Trailhead, you have two choices: take the shorter Highline Trail around the east end of Green River Lake for unimpeded views of Squaretop Mountain, or take the forested Lakeside Trail around the west, which offers shady, pleasant hiking, but adds about a mile to your trip. 

Snap a photo at Slide Creek Falls as you climb above the Green River. Leave the crowds behind as you cross huge meadows with stunning views up-valley through a recovering forest fire. Arrive early in the season to get the best photos as the valley floor is covered in wildflowers.

Before crossing the bridge over Clear Creek, consider continuing up-valley to Natural Bridge, where Clear Creek has bored a hole through a hill and formed a natural arch. This quick out-and-back side trip will add about 1.5 miles to your trip.

Once you cross the bridge and the meadow and continue up the switchbacks to reach Slide Lake, make sure to stop and watch Slide Creek as it flows down a flat granite waterslide. Resist the temptation to take a ride. At the last meadow, see if you can spot the elk and deer that frequent this high, secluded place before continuing on to your campsite. 

Who is Going to Love It

Moderately fit backpackers looking for a challenge, solitude, and the chance for wildlife-viewing will love this hike. Day hikers or trail runners would also find this a pleasant day trip.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Pinedale, take the 191 west out of town. Just before the first animal overpass, take a right onto the 352. Follow this road for about 25 minutes until it turns into a dirt road at the Forest Service boundary. 

Passenger cars may find this road rough, but as long as it isn't wet it should be passable. Keep going for another 30 minutes to reach the Green River Lakes Trailhead and Campsite, managed by the Forest Service. There is pay camping to the right and free trailhead parking and stock corrals to the left. 

Location

Slide Lake

43.314111, -109.858284

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