Barren Lake Loop via Big Sandy Trail and Freemont Trail
This is a moderate loop trail to Barren Lake in Bridger-Teton National Forest.
This loop can be done in either direction. The actual elevation gain for the entire loop is close to 3,600 feet. This is a very popular loop trail that passes numerous alpine lakes and the scenic Cirque of the Towers. There are two passes on this route, Jackass and Texas Passes that are on the Cirque, Texas Pass being slightly higher than Jackass. Depending on direction traveled, the north side of Texas Pass is a steep and rocky ascent or descent, and could be covered in snow depending on time of year. The rest of the route has a good trail with the occasional big step or two. North Lake between Jackass Pass and Big Sandy Lake has little to no flat camping as camps must be 200 ft from lakes, and 100 ft from streams. Lonesome Lake in the Cirque requires camping at least 1/4 mile from the lake. A short hike from North Lake to Arrowhead Lake may yield more room for camping on day one if making the loop in a counter clockwise direction from the Big Sandy trailhead. Arrowhead Lake lies directly below impressive War Bonnet Peak standing at 12,192 feet. Depending on fitness level and current conditions, 2-4 days backpacking is suitable for this loop. The west side of the loop consists of expansive meadows, lakes and rolling terrain. Shadow Lake is a popular over night spot on the north end of the loop with stunning views of Wolfs Head, Elizabeth Peak and adjoining spires. There are plenty of other lakes where one could find more solitude along the route. Big Sandy Lake is a popular camping area for backpackers, and less than 6 miles from the trailhead.
The loop starts at Big Sandy trailhead east of US 191. Travel to the trailhead consists of 20+ miles on good dirt roads. The parking area is large but very busy as it is a popular hiking, camping, horse back riding, climbing and backpacking destination.
Older experienced children who have backpacked and hiked could manage this loop. Be bear aware.