Camping, Hiking and Fishing Near Brooks Lake, WY

In the northwest part of Wyoming, near the Continental Divide, the area around Brooks Lake offers expansive views of the Wind River and Absaroka Ranges, decent camping near good fishing, and both high peaks and quiet woods for hiking and exploring.

There are numerous trails for hiking to peaks in the range, but most of them require cross-country hiking in rough terrain on multi-day approaches. There are a few areas where you can access peaks on day or one-night trips access to mountains in the wilderness. Breccia Peak, Angle Mountain, and Two Ocean Mountain have hike/scramble routes on them. Mount Sublette (also known as Brooks Mountain), while it may appear insurmountable from several angles, actually has a hiking route up to the summit starting just west of Togwotee Pass. Another hikable summit peak is Austin Peak. Its gentle slopes take you to over 11,000 feet, and while it seems more of an alpine plateau than a true mountain, bisected by several ridges, Austin does contain some of the best alpine wildflower meadows in the Rockies. The Pinnacle Buttes are near Brooks Lake and can be seen from the highway (several places between Dubois and Togwotee Pass) and are one of the area's the area's most dramatic features. There are four summits; the standard route on the highest of them goes at Class 3.

The peaks of the Togwotee Pass/Brooks Lake area are characterized by spires and pinnacles that are inspiring, but treacherous to climb. The rock is mostly volcanic ash breccia, that crumbles easily, so the area is better for hiking and scrambling rather than technical climbing. At many of the summits, there are meadows of wild flowers. The Wind River Range, the Tetons, the Absaroka and Thorofare region of Yellowstone can be seen from the peaks near Brooks Lake.

Brooks Lake sunset

Two campgrounds are located on the lake: Brooks and Pinnacles. Fishing is good at Brooks Lake, but the fish do not grow to large sizes due to the altitude and relatively low food supply – expect pan-size to 16 inchers. Species found in the lake are: rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout, splake, and Snake River cutthroat. Try flies when they're rising, and bait when they're not. There is a boat ramp here, and paddling out onto the lake yields good fishing, but you can catch your limit from the shore as well. If you want some seclusion with your fishing, or aren't up for hiking to summits, the Jade Lakes are a nice day-hike away, and offer trout as well.

This area is prime bear habitat, so think about what you can do to minimize encounters. Use the bear boxes in the campground for storing all food and toiletries, and you should be alert at all times for any bear activity, especially when fishing. And for the uninitiated: No, you can't drive a grizzly away by banging your pots together, ringing a bell, or shouting. They are not afraid of you, and have no reason to be.

Logistics:

About 7 miles east of Togwotee Pass on U.S. 26/287 northwest of Dubois, turn onto the road for Brooks Lake (FS Road 515) and follow this good unpaved road for 5 miles to the lake. In the area off 26/287near Road 515, you will find a turnoff for the trailhead that accesses Austin Peak; the Pinnacle Buttes trailhead is off Road 515. All trailheads are pretty obvious on the Wyoming Recreation Atlas.

Check Wyoming Game and Fish fishing regulations for specifics before fishing, and buy a license in either Jackson or Dubois on the way if you need one. Bring bug repellant if there during the early part of summer, or they'll eat-cha!