GOSHEN COUNTY – Crunched for money and time but still need a break? In the current economic climate, stay-cations are a popular alternative to expensive trips to exotic destinations.
The term “stay-cation” refers to time off spent at home or by visiting local attractions.
One such local attraction is Laramie Peak, which offers hiking, camping, fishing and sightseeing for pennies on the dollar.
Located near Douglas – approximately 78 miles from Torrington – Laramie Peak reaches nearly 10,300 feet and is the highest peak in the Laramie Range. A trailhead at the base of the peak features a restroom facility and parking for $5 per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service.
The adjacent Friend Park campground provides tables, toilets, fire grates and drinking water. The cost to stay here is $10 per night and is non-reservable.
Additional camping is available approximately one-quarter mile outside the campground.
The USDA website (www.fs.usda.gov) gives the following account of the hike up the Laramie Peak trail: “The trail is relatively flat for about the first mile, as it follows along Friend Creek. As the climb increases, the trail affords views of the nearby rock hills. Friend Park Falls is a small waterfall about two miles up the trail and provides a convenient rest or turnaround point. As the hiker climbs further up the trail rises 2,500 feet in elevation over approximately three miles. Panoramic views can be seen from the summit of Laramie Peak. One can see several states, mountain ranges and cities.”
Open season begins in June. Vehicles more than 50 inches wide are not allowed, and a Wyoming State OHV sticker is required for off-road vehicles. Visitors should be advised county roads and Forest Service roads are unpaved.
Current alerts for the area include a warning about falling beetle-killed trees. A variety of wildlife, including bears and mountain lions, along with deer and elk, also inhabit the Laramie Peak Range.
Bring hiking shoes, a camera, bear spray and plenty of water.
To reach the trailhead, follow Highway 94 south from Douglas to County Road 5, or Esterbrook Road, south to Forest Road 671, northeast to Forest Road 661 and north to the trailhead.