Togwotee Pass Continental Divide Trail Project
Building on the success of last year’s Upper Brewer’s Trail Project in Lander, the Shoshone National Forest invited Wyoming Pathways to assist in a new project to construct a missing section of the iconic 3100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) that connects from Canada to Mexico. The new piece is near Brooks Lake, with access off Togwotee Pass US-26.
The Forest Plan calls for a proper trail to be built to replace the current route, which simply follows the Brooks Lake road, crosses the highway and then goes up old logging roads towards Union Pass, not a good hiking experience. To rectify this, the Shoshone NF and Bridger Teton NF worked together to develop a new alignment that would run over the top of Togwotee Pass. This would be a major improvement for the trail, taking advantage of the unparalleled scenic beauty of the Togwotee Pass area.
The Togwotee Pass CDT Trail Project is being funded by the Shoshone NF with a partnership agreement with Wyoming Pathways to provide our expertise to oversee construction contract to build the trail. Chairman Bruce Burrows, Board Member Todd Thibodeau and Executive Director Tim Young have been in the field to help create this “new and improved” alignment of the CDT. Professional trail builder Adam Buck’s firm Pathfinder has been retained to build the trail, beginning in late August.
The project got moving this July, when Bruce, Todd and Tim met with Shoshone South Zone Trails Coordinator Chris Sellers on a field trip to review the flag line from Togwotee Pass to Sublette Pass and then down toward Brooks Lake. The group checked grades (targeted to be in the sustainable 5-8% range) and made minor adjustments to the proposed alignment to make it more fun and sustainable for trail users, which are anticipated to include hikers, mountain bikers, and horse users.
The project also includes plan to build a new trailhead built off the top of the pass, so people will have a proper place to park off the highway. The rerouted section of the CDT will include about 10 miles of new trail on the Shoshone NF from Bear Cub Pass to Togwotee Pass. It will then shift to the west side onto the Bridger-Teton NF for another 14 miles of connected new single track to Sheridan Pass. The Bridger-Teton NF will be working on sections in their jurisdiction this summer as well.
Upon completion of these reroutes, forest visitors could access up to 25 miles of new high-quality CDT trail in some of the most scenic terrain that Wyoming has to offer. With wonderful scenery and a great trail, we anticipate that this section of the CDT is going to become a popular alpine day-hike and MTB adventure destination, along with serving the long-distance hikers that do the CDT. It will create new economic benefits for the Dubois area and enhance the area travel and tourism opportunities.
This year’s trail work on the 2.5-mile section will tentatively be complete by the end of September. The trail is alpine in nature at up to 10,000’ elevation, so be prepared for mountain weather, and please, don’t forget your bear spray!