Backpack: New Fork-Doubletop-Palmer Loop
Segment 5: Doubletop Mountain and Palmer Lake Trails

Distance: 8.0 miles (one way)

Bridger Wilderness, Bridger-Teton National Forest, near New Fork Lakes in Wyoming's Wind River Range

The Palmer Cliffs

The Palmer Cliffs


  • Distance: 8.0 miles
  • Elevation: 0.0 miles at Summit Lake/Doubletop Mtn Junction (10,330-ft.)
    1.2 miles at 1st No Name Lake (10,590-ft.)
    2.0 miles at 2 nd No Name Lake (10,620-ft.)
    2.5 miles at High Point on Ridge (10,780-ft.)
    2.9 miles at Largest Cutthroat Lakes(10,595-ft.)
    4.6 miles at Junction Palmer Lake and Doubletop Mtn Trails (10,180-ft.)
    5.3 miles at Saddle above Palmer Lake (10,780-ft.)
    8.0 miles at Junction Palmer Lake and New Fork Trails
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Basecamp: New Fork Lakes
  • Region: Wyoming's Wind River Range


Doubletop Mountain and Palmer Lake Trails Description

The Doubletop Mountain Trail takes off from the Highline Trail at the signed junction along the western shore of Summit Lake. From the junction the Highline trail runs north to Three Forks Park and south toward Trapper Lake. We turn west on the Doubletop Mountain trail leading to Palmer Lake.

Follow the trail through meadows scattered with wildflowers, willow thickets and stunted conifers set amid rock outcroppings and small knobs. Views extend north to Glover Peak (12,068-ft.). Mount Oeneis (12,232-ft.) dominates the view to the east.

At 0.7 miles skirt the north side of a small tarn. Soon the trail crosses a tributary of Pine Creek three times, rock-hopping to the south side at 0.9 miles, the north side at 1.1 miles and the south side again at 1.2 miles. Just past the last crossing the trail reaches the foot (east end) of No Name Lake 10,590.

The path now traverses the south/southeast side of the lake. Turn around for fine views of Mount Oeneis along with Mount Whitecap (13,020-ft.), Split Mountain (13,155-ft.) and the other peaks rising above the Peak Lake area to the east/northeast.

At 2.0 miles reach No Name Lake 10,620, a pretty lake surrounded by lush meadows and rugged granite knolls. To the southeast views extend to Elbow Peak (11,948-ft.) and Harrower Peak (13,052-ft.). Scenic, albeit exposed, campsites are located around the No Name Lake basin.

Just beyond the foot of the lake the trail swings to the left (southwest) and climbs to the top of a ridge separating the No Name and Cutthroat Lake basins at 2.5 miles. Panoramic views from the ridge encompass a sea of high peaks to the east/southeast including Gannett Peak (13,809-ft.) rising between Ladd Peak (12,957-ft.) and Mount Whitecap, Split Mountain, Mt Woodrow Wilson (13,502-ft.), Mt. Oeneis, Bow Mountain (13,020-ft.), Sky Pilot Peak and Harrower Peak, to name a few. Glover Peak rises to the northeast.

Descend from the ridge on a rocky trail and then cross the inlet stream at the head of Lake 10,595, the largest of the Cutthroat Lakes, at 2.9 miles. The Cutthroat Lake basin, which extends south, features numerous small tarns cradled amid low knolls, rock outcroppings and clusters of stunted trees. More protected camping spots are dispersed about the basin’s nooks and crannies.

Travel a short distance along the lake’s western shore and then climb over two low ridges separated by a small basin with a tarn. The trail now descends on moderate grades through meadows scattered with trees, passing a tarn and then dropping down a rocky trail into a draw.

Reach the floor of the draw at 3.6 miles. Here the trail skirts the north side of a pond and then cross the pond’s inlet stream. Soon the trail climbs out of the draw, ascending through pretty meadows as it climbs to a bench atop a ridge.

The trail now curves to the northwest as it crosses the bench, traveling through small meadows, climbing over rock outcroppings and passing a few more tarns along the way. At 4.3 miles the trail curves north and briefly travels along the west side of a knob to an overlook above the Palmer Lake basin. Palmer Lake (10,163-ft.) lies nestled in meadows surrounded by rocky knolls scattered with trees. To the north a small section of the Palmer Cliffs are visible beyond a saddle on the ridge. Doubletop Mountain rises to the southwest.

From the overlook the trail briefly turns west as it drops steeply into the gully channeling Lake Creek and crosses the creek at 4.5 miles, just to the south of where the creek exits Palmer Lake. On the west side of Lake Creek ignore any trail branching to the left (south), instead bear right (north) and follow the trail traversing the slopes above the west side of Palmer Lake.

Reach an unmarked junction at 4.6 miles. Here the Doubletop Mountain Trail makes a sharp turn to the left (southwest). We continue straight ahead along the west side of Palmer Lake on the Palmer Lake trail.

Beyond the head of Palmer Lake the trail climbs through meadows along the west side of a small valley. Nascent Lake Creek trickles down the valley floor. At 5.1 miles pass an unmarked junction with a trail branching left (northwest). This path ascends on easy grades for 0.2 miles to Penny Lake where you will find a few nice campsites.

Soon the Palmer Creek trail crosses the outlet stream for Penny Lake and at 5.3 miles reaches the saddle on the ridge at the head of Lake Creek. Here great views open to the Palmer Cliffs towering above the north side of Palmer Canyon.

The saddle marks the divide between the Lake Creek and Palmer Canyon drainages. Cross the saddle to the head of the Reynolds Creek which drains the South Fork of Palmer Canyon. The trail now descends through meadows down the west side of the South Fork, crossing the nascent Reynolds Creek at 5.5 miles.

On the east side of the creek a short traverse takes the trail high above the valley floor. Along the way the meadows give way to forest.

At 5.7 miles the trail starts a steep descent down switchbacks toward the confluence of the South Fork of Palmer Canyon with the main canyon. At 6.5 miles, a short distance before the confluence, the trail swings to the left (northwest) and crosses to the west side of Reynolds Creek. A descending traverse across an avalanche chute leads to the main canyon where the trail turns left (northwest). The high cliffs of Palmer Canyon soar over 1,800-ft above the north side of the canyon.

The trail continues dropping on easy to moderate grades down the south side of Palmer Canyon and then rock-hops across the creek to the north side of the canyon at 6.9 miles. At 7.6 miles reach a crossing of the New Fork River at the confluence of Palmer and New Forks Canyons. Early in the season wade across the river, otherwise rock-hop across the river and then head west to the junction with the New Forks Trail at 8.0 miles.

You are now 8.5 miles from civilization. Turn left (south) at the junction and follow the New Fork Trail back to the New Fork trailhead.

Return to Segment 4: Highline Trail: Elbow Lake Basin to Summit Lake

Go To Segment 6: New Fork Park to Trailhead

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile - Doubletop Mountain and Palmer Lake Trails

Backpack Segments


Driving Directions to New Fork Lakes Trailhead

New Fork Lakes Trailhead: Located on the northeast shore of Lower New Fork Lake, this trailhead offers an alternative and less crowded access point to the northwestern Wind River range without the long drive to Green River Lakes.

Directions from Pinedale: - From the intersection of Pine Street (US 191) and North Tyler Ave (the Pinedale Tourism office is located on the northeast corner) in Pinedale, WY, drive west on Highway 191 (West Pine Street) for 6 miles and then turn right on WY-352 toward Cora. Follow WY-352 for 14.3 miles and turn right on County Road 162, a dirt road signed for New Fork Lakes. Follow the road for 4.8 miles to the end of the road. Along the way the road name will change to New Fork Lakes Road/Forest Service Road 732/730. The New Forks Lake parking area is on the left. The trailhead is located at the northeast corner of the lot.

The 25.2 mile trip should take about 40 minutes. Passenger cars can typically make it to the trailhead without any problems.


Trail Resources