Camping at Island Lake
Island Lake is an excellent place to set up a “base camp.” From here a plethora of exciting and scenic day hikes await you. The summit of Fremont Peak is only five miles and the gorgeousTitcomb Basin is approximately two miles away. One can also head further to the west and check out the Jean Lake area which offers excellent cutthroat trout fishing. Whatever you decide to do remember to have the utmost respect for the land and leave it as you find it.
Island Lake is a fairly high use area so you can expect company. Remember to be respectful to your neighbors and give them their space. Island Lake is above timberline so privacy is minimal. Many people travel into the Wind River Mountain Range for solitude and do not appreciate people setting up camp close to theirs. Due to the fact that you are above timberline, campfires are not allowed. Be sure you are camped at least 200 feet from the lake and trails in order to be in compliance with the Bridger Wilderness regulations.
Fishing in and around Island Lake
Many people venture into the Wind River Range with one thing on their mind…fish. While you may not be catching “lunkers” in the high mountain lakes and streams, if you possess any skill in angling, you will probably be bringing home dinner. The main species of fish you will catch in this area are cutthroat trout and brook trout. You may also encounter a rainbow or a brown but these are unlikely the higher you get as they are not a native species. The Wind River Range is also one of few places in the nation where you will find golden trout. The nearest destination to Island Lake to catch golden trout would be Elbow Lake which is about four miles west of Island Lake on the Highline Trail.
Day Hike Opportunities from Island Lake
Titcomb Basin is an easy and extremely scenic hike from Island Lake. It should take the average hiker no more than 30 minutes to reach the mouth of the basin. Simply hike around the east shore of the lake and pass a small beach just as you reach the north shore. The trail begins a gradual climb away from the lake. The trail will pass a few nice waterfalls and cascades. Before beginning the final mile or so into the basin, the trail forks. To the left is Titcomb basin and the right goes to Indian Basin.
Indian Basin is another easy day hike from Island Lake. Follow the trail as described above but continue right instead of veering to the left. The fork in the trail is well marked. The trail in Indian Basin becomes vague in a few places but one can see for great distances due to the lack of trees. Once in the basin the trail leads to the south. The trail eventually begins to climb over Indian Pass. Indian Pass is one of the easiest routes over the divide in this part of the Wind River Range. However, if you do choose to cross the divide here it is recommended to have proper glacier travel gear and knowledge as a large percentage of this area is glaciated.
Climbing Opportunities from Island Lake
Island Lake is an excellent place to stage an assault on Fremont Peak. For the easiest and most traditional route up Fremont follow the description above for entering Indian Basin. As soon as you enter the basin leave the trail and head north-west. One will be in clear view of the peak the whole during the entire approach. Climbers will want to eventually gain the saddle coming off of Fremont’s southern face. The saddle is approximately two miles from the point climbers leave the maintained trail. Once ascending the saddle look for climbing trails (non-maintained) to ease travel. After gaining the saddle, the south face of Fremont Peak is directly above. From here, expect a minimum of an hour of steep scrambling to summit.
The Trail & Hike to Island Lake
The hike to Island Lake is approximately ten miles. The average hiker should be able to reach the lake in a day. However, the hike is more commonly done in several days, allowing the hiker(s) to take their time and enjoy the beautiful area. Seneca Lake offers great camping and is approximately halfway to Island Lake.
Island Lake is most easily accessed from the Elkhart Park trailhead located approximately 15 miles North of Pinedale, Wyoming. A Forest Service Campground is also conveniently located at the trailhead. Elkhart Park, at an elevation of nearly 9,100 feet is the highest trailhead in the Wind River Mountain Range.
The first four miles of trail will guide hikers through fairly dense forest. After five miles is Photographers Point, which offers a glimpse at the Divide and is an excellent day hike. Begin descending down towards a series of small lakes and ponds. You will continue past about three small lakes, all of which offer fishing possibilities. The trail continues past Seneca Lake and Little Seneca Lake and over another small pass. Throughout the hike there will be many places to replenish your water with the exception of the first five miles. A favorite spot to fill up is just before the ascent to Seneca at Fremont Creek. This is about the half way point and the water is cool and clean (filters still strongly advised).