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Hiking and Biking Near Jelm, Wyoming

General Info

The Medicine Bow Rail Trail winds its way through the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and follows the tracks of the Laramie, Hahns Peak, and Pacific Railroad. The rail was built to accommodate the second gold rush, but also carried coal, timber and livestock. It became part of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1951.

The Trail was opened in 2007 but the story of the Medicine Bow dates back more than 100 years, when this area was regularly used by Native Americans for ceremonial purposes to ward off diseases and to find tree varieties that made strong bows.

The area offers opportunities for skiing and snowshoeing in winter months and hikers, runners, cyclists and even horseback riders enjoy the area from around mid-June to late October. Trail users should wear orange vests during hunting season—normally the month of October.
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Trail Access

The Trail is a 21-mile long gravel adventure only 30 miles away from the nearest city of Laramie. It is best suited for full-suspension and hybrid mountain bikes. Motorized vehicles are not permitted.

You can access the Trail from 6 different locations. From Dry Park at the northern end of the trail and Pelton Creek at the southern end. The other locations include Vienna, Woods Creek, Lincoln Gulch and Lake Owen. All trailheads have parking areas and you will find restrooms at all but the Dry Creek Road and Vienna trailheads.
There is also a mile-long circuit trail at Lake Owen with a handicap-accessible fishing pier.

Useful Links

To learn more about the different segments of the trail, find GPS coordinates and download the map, you can visit the following websites: 
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Trail Reviews

The Medicine Bow Rail Trail is remote and wild. We rode from Lake Owen to the southern end - about 38 miles round trip. There were no other riders on the trail so we were able to "get away from it all." The trail is very well maintained and clear of debris. There is a slight incline coming out of the campground and then an even 300 foot decline to the southern terminus. Easy. Be aware - while we were riding a fast moving wet and windy storm blew through and trees were falling all around us as we rode the area burned in a previous forest fire. There is no water but there are restrooms at the few trail heads. All in all, a wonderful ride.
Milanco -
Starting from Owen Lake we rode south to the end and back. Each trail head had a vault outhouse that was in clean condition. Didn't see another biker (yay), though saw cows and some ATVers on the parallel road. Trail surface was a mixture of packed crushed gravel, somewhat overgrown gravel with grasses and wildflowers, and coarse gravel. Some soft spots, some thicker gravel as you rode around Fox park. I rode on 700x32c tires and would recommend larger than 35c tires. There is ZERO WATER, so bring enough, and only some shade if you ride early. I had a quality filter but accessing the swampy areas is tough at best, add to that the bovine factor. The area is very exposed and dry. Recent burn area appeared open so we rode through the sad destroyed area. Owen Lake has many overgrown and exposed campsites plus a few nicer ones with some shade. The lake is super pretty. Water was off there too.
Astroman -
Two friends and I rode from the Woods Creek Trailhead to Pelton Creek and back the last weekend of October 2016. The weather was crisp and the trail was deserted - we saw one woman walking her dogs over our 24 miles on the trail. I had not been on the Medicine Bow Rail Trail for many years and was worried that the beetle infestation of a few years back might have caused deforestation around the trail making it an ugly or boring ride. To the contrary, while many trees were killed and some still stand, many have been removed. This has opened up the forest around the trail to regrowth. When I rode a section many years ago near Owen Lake, it was a corridor through thick lodgepole pine - rather bland and uninteresting after a few miles. Now, at least in the section we rode, stands of aspen are growing in and there are views opened up both by fire as well as beetle kill. Nature knows how to rejuvenate. Since the leaves had already fallen this year, I can't wait to return to the trail next fall during the height of aspen leaf season, it should be even more beautiful. We rode a combination of mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes (fitted with non-knobby tires) and the trail surface was well-packed. Even a hybrid or commute bike tire would do well. We stopped for a hot drink and some appetizers at the WyoColo lodge just off the trail, and it was cozy and friendly. This would be a great trail for beginners, families and anyone who is looking for peace and solitude and a great workout.
Wilderwomn -