Upper Silas Lake is one of the few hikes in the Winds that can be an honest, easy day-hike. You won’t be rewarded with staggering scenery, but it’s better than being stuck in town, and the fishing is still fun! Special note: The new trailhead is called Christina Lake Trailhead and is a little south of the lake.
➻ Quick Facts
I’d been working up in Montana (don’t ask) and had some time off thanks to business conditions, so I scuttled down 11 hours to see my family and do a quick hike. It was still early in the season, so we elected to do a day hike to Upper Silas Lake out of Lander. After that, I had to return to Montana.
⤑Day Hiking to Upper Silas Lake
If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you probably know that I can be long-winded (although my stats show that most people seem to appreciate those more for whatever reason), which really irks my mother and Peggy Hill both. Well guess what, mother and Peggy Hill! This is my digital scrapbook, and I want to always be able to refresh my memory. Neener neener neener!
Anyway, there I go getting long-winded again. We arrived at Fiddlers Lake Trailhead having ingressed from Rock Springs, and took the cutoff road near South Pass. I don’t know that this saves one any time, but it is what we did, and the dirt road was long and fairly boring, save for where it crossed the Popo Agie.
We didn’t get on the trail until 2:10, which was pretty dang late, but it’s a short trail so we had no real worries. My sister and Chad (Chad the chug dog) were also along for the stroll, so it was a real family outing! The trail starts off into a meadow and then enters into an arid forest, filled with dry pines and dirt. Only 1800 feet in, we saw an ugly pond and left the trail to get a pic.
After that, we got back underway and found ourselves going consistently uphill. After climbing 280 feet, we then found ourselves losing about half of that as we walked down to a creek. At this time of year, it was roaring! The crossing still amounted to merely jumping, but we began to see large piles of snow.
Although my map said that we’d wrap around a hill and hit Lower Silas Lake, that turned out to be fake news. Instead, we found ourselves climbing something like a ridge, and after some time we came to another creek, which appeared to be the creek between the Silas Lakes. This creek was basically in a boulder field, so again the crossing was easy. We couldn’t see Lower Silas, though, and we were all a bit bummed, but didn’t feel like bushwhacking to it. Rather than following the trail, we decided to amble up the boulders and along the creek, and at the top of the hill we found a large pond that we caught a number of brook trout in. The creek above also had great fishing, and Chad was excited, as he sees himself as quite the little fisherchug.
After fishing, we cut southward through the forest, figuring that the trail had to be close by, and sure enough, it was only 200 feet away! Only a few minutes later we broke out at a lush meadow that might have been fun to explore, but a mama moose and her 2 babies were eating, so we gave the area a very wide berth. The large meadow is only 700 feet from Tomahawk Lake, which we didn’t visit—should have, but didn’t think about it. If you’ve been there, let me know if you liked it, please!
- Wild animals…look closely.
There was still plenty of snow in some areas of shadows around Upper Silas Lake, which we reached at 5:40. The creek had better fishing than the lake, which we explored a bit. Leaving out the snow, there were plenty of places to camp in the trees, and no one was there. We’d also seen no one on the trail, a fact which would remain true for the entire hike.
Point 11522 provides the primary “mountain view,” though it looks more like a lumpy, rocky hill. We didn’t have time to explore Silas Canyon, which is home to an Island Lake (#Titcomb) and Thumb Lake, but mom really wanted to go back and nab them one day. I’d like to as well, except maybe not so much if it’s all hellacious boulderscape.
After fishing for an hour, we decided to head back to the vehicle, as it was getting late—we still ended up fishing on the way out! While egressing, we went off-trail in a couple areas in order to save time and energy.
Back at the meadow by the trailhead, Chad jumped a narrow, deep creek cut (deeper than it was wide, but it was only about 24 inches wide), except he kind of gave up mid-spring and ended up jammed down in the creek, looking bewildered. We rescued the (dumb) little comedian and watched a great sunset over Fiddlers Lake, leaving for home just around 9:45.
➤Conclusion and Rating
There are not all that many day hikes available in the Winds, and certainly very few around the 8-mile range (or less), so Silas Lake doesn’t have much competition worth mentioning. Although it’s a dry, dusty, ugly hike in, the reward is good fishing for brookies at a quiet lake. While not the most beautiful, I think it’s a really good option for people with younger kids or those who simply have little time off. It’s probably a much nicer hike if you add on Tomahawk Lake.
- My scientific rating system.
- Beauty. The views are pretty average. No sweeping vistas or awesome peaks.
- Camping spots. Plentiful.
- Crowds. We were the only people on the trail that day.
- Difficulty. Easy.
- Fishing. Plenty of brook trout.
- History. Negative Ghost Rider.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to help you do more with that time of yours, and I’m here to serve you!