GET OUT: Bailey Lake delivers quietude
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – At 35 acres, Bailey Lake is the largest lake along the Little Greys River Road, and well worth the easy-to-moderate 12-mile round-trip trek. The trail is a gradual, rolling descent with a few hardy uphills and downhills along the way. The well-maintained trail is fairly free of obstacles, and usage is moderate beyond a few outfitters, fishermen and mountain bikers that share the trail.
Early June is the time to go, as you will have it almost entirely to yourself. There are a couple of run-off crossings, but nothing you have to wade through. A few hops on some wobbly rocks, and your feet will rest once again on the nice, wide single track. The terrain is smooth, allowing you the luxury of looking around instead of looking at the ground, having to be mindful of every step. Sun and shade take turns on the trail so even if you plan to venture out on a hot day, you are guaranteed regular reprieves from the sun.
As you get closer to the lake, the creek widens, meandering through tall grasses as it reaches the lake. Eagles often soar above the lake, providing incredible energy. It’s clear this is their home, and they are busy surviving and raising their families; they were alert for the only humans they would encounter on this day. Within the quietude, the flapping of the eagle’s wings just above our head was a powerful sound.
The scene was surreal, invigorating and peaceful, evoking a full palette of emotions. The birds were singing, frogs croaking, bees buzzing, all in harmony with our own soft footsteps. We were compelled to sit in the warm sun and take it all in on the edge of Bailey Lake. An even better resting spot is found about a quarter mile further on the trail leading to the west side of the lake. You will see where the mountain creek flows into Bailey Lake. Lush greens and dandelions make a colorful backdrop in late spring. The trees offer just the right amount of shade for an afternoon nap.
Remember, the return trip will take you a little longer without the gravity of the descent to help you along. Also, this area has frequent afternoon thunderstorms so be sure to pack the rain gear. If you are looking for a bit more exercise, you have the option here of continuing on the trail another four miles to the Snake River Canyon for a 10-mile, one-way trip. The elevation gain for this leg of the hike is 1,800 feet, so the trail becomes more moderate-to-steep.
Directions from Alpine: Travel southeast on Greys River Road to Little Greys River Road. Go north and east on Little Greys River Road about 14.5 miles to a cattle guard on the north side of McCain Meadows. Turn left into the parking area after crossing cattle guard. Watch for sign identifying trail.
The trail begins on the north side of McCain Meadows off Little Greys River Road.