8,130 Feet of Fun
Whether you prefer cruising along by mountain bike or roaming about on foot, you'll satisfy your wanderlust on Casper Mountain.
"Casper Mountain, and Casper, is unique in that we have a town with the mountain so close by," says Adventure Guide Bruce Lamberson, owner of Mountain Sports. "You've just got wonderful recreational opportunities, and no waiting in line for anything. It's uncrowded, and that's pretty unique."
Living in Wyoming since 1969, Lamberson has always enjoyed the outdoors. He and his brother opened Mountain Sports in 1973, and over the years it's evolved into a specialty sports store, selling equipment and gear for activities from cycling to snow sports. He moved up on the mountain in '73 as well, calling it "a great place to live. I go home every night to my vacation home!"
Depending on your pleasure, here are some of your opportunities on Casper Mountain.
Rotary Park, located just south of town at the base of the mountain, is home to popular Garden Creek Falls. The 4.5 mile Bridle Trail winds around the park, offering spectacular views of the city below, as well as the waterfall and surrounding scenery. "For hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, it's really wonderful," Lamberson says. The park is equipped with grills and fire pits, so remember to pack some burgers, beverages and hot dogs to satisfy your appetite after an excursion through the fresh air.
A bit further up the mountain is the Lee McCune Braille Trail. Lamberson believes the sight-impaired and seeing alike will enjoy the great outdoors on this unique trail, located on the Strube Loop section of Casper Mountain Park. "It goes into Elkhorn Canyon...you can hike down into the Braille Trail and look at different demonstrations of wildlife, and the natural area there," he says. This trail also has interpretive plaques that include braille imprints and ropes for guidance.
If you continue up the main road, you'll find yourself at Beartrap Meadow. Lamberson points out that there are three different camping areas nearby, as well as several shelters that are available for rent through the county. Although it's primarily a camping and picnic area, there are several festivals held there, most notably the Beartrap Summer Festival, an annual celebration of bluegrass music, great food and eclectic vendors. National acts like Earl Scruggs, Asleep at the Wheel and Ricky Skaggs have performed in the past, with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band slated to appear this year. "They usually have gospel services Sunday morning, which is really neat out in the meadow," he says. Beartrap is also the trail head for many hiking and mountain biking loops that traverse the area. This trail system is comprised of a combination of both single-track and double-track trails that allow users to choose between smooth, leisurely trips or more technical challenges. Lamberson notes that there are numerous dirt roads that go out around Beartrap that are good for hiking and mountain biking, as well.
> From Beartrap, it's just a short jaunt West to Adams Memorial Archery Range. "The archery range is a pretty special part of Casper Mountain," Lamberson says. "It's just a great way to practice your archery skills outdoors on the mountain." You can stay entertained with bow and arrow, or even set up camp at one of the tent or RV sites in the area. If your mood is more suited to sightseeing than shooting, be sure to bring or borrow an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) to enjoy cruising the area's many public access roads and trails.
If you get too hot and dusty, or if you're just plain ready to park your ride, head East across Beartrap Meadow to Crimson Dawn Park & Museum. "Crimson Dawn's a park that was donated by Neal Forsling years ago...she and her husband's graves are there, and their cabin's been turned into a museum. Not a big fancy museum, but a real folksy, primitive museum that's open during the summer," Lamberson shares. Known for it's midsummer solstice celebration, hundreds of people visit the park each year to hear the curator's tales about the friendly mythical elves, witches and forest spirits that call Casper Mountain Home. "Everybody in Casper should go through the midsummer's eve at Crimson Dawn at least once," he asserts. "It's a pretty fun deal."
According to Lamberson, one of the least-visited parks on Casper Mountain is Ponderosa Park, located on the East side of the mountain. Though there are restrooms and a bit of shelter, Lamberson refers to it as "a more primitive area," with lots of area for hiking, biking and horseback riding. He also cautions against driving a low-riding vehicle, advising folks to travel in by truck. "If you really want to get away," he advises, "Ponderosa Park is the place to do it."
Another nearby area is Coal Mountain, located on the West end of Casper Mountain. Lamberson says this area, like so much of the mountain, is good for mountain biking, trail running and horseback riding. There are also shooting areas that people use for target practice. Due to the lower elevation, Lamberson recommends exploring Coal Mountain in the spring if you're hoping to avoid snow at the higher elevations.
Travel Casper Mountain a few more miles South to reach Muddy Mountain and its Environmental Education Area (307-261-7600). Here, the Interpretive Nature Trail connects two campgrounds which are wheelchair accessible. Rim Campground and Lodgepole Campground are, in Lamberson's opinion, "great places to camp for the night. In fact," he continues, "some of my favorite area is back there. That's a pretty neat place to go." The trail includes interpretive signs, two overlooks, and an abundance of wildlife - deer, antelope and elk, to name a few. The nature area itself is 700 acres, ripe for primitive camping, hiking and mountain biking.
Casper Mountain promises too many adventures to list here. If you need help getting started, stop in at Mountain Sports (307-266-1136) to check out their outdoor, recreation and camping gear, and chat with their experienced staff about areas to explore. And remember, there's lots of private property on both mountains, so please, respect posted signs and stay within designated public access areas. "I think most of the private areas are well-marked," Lamberson states, "and a lot of private areas have roads through them ... you're welcome to travel on them, but realize that often, you are on private property, and act accordingly."
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