Last Bighorn? LbNA # 59669
|Placed Date||Sep 13 2011|
|Location||Big Horn, WY|
Last checked/found: 13-SEP-11
Trailhead: From Big Horn, WY, take WY 335 south 9.9 miles to where it becomes Forest Road 26 (Red Grade Road). Continue 12 miles to the trailhead. Trailhead #022 – Sawmill Lakes is on the north side of the road, slightly west of the West Fork of Big Goose Creek. Parking is available near the bridge. (OR From Burgess Junction, follow U.S. Highway 14 south to mile 42.6. Drive east on Forest Road 26 for 18 miles to reach the trailhead.)
Distance: ~2.5 miles roundtrip
Time: ~1.5 hours
Terrain: Mostly level trail with some minor ascent/descent (~300’).
We spent several days hiking in the Bighorn Mountains in September 2011 and never saw even a hint of a Bighorn Sheep. After returning home, we found an article that said that in 2010 the Wyoming Game and Fish Department was using a helicopter to transplant some of these animals back to their namesake mountains. We’re not sure how successful this program was, but if you’d like to find what may be the last Bighorn in these parts, you should head to the Sawmill Reservoir.
Start by hiking on trail #022, with the rushing waters of the west fork of the Big Goose Creek on your right.
Continue along the ridge line and you’ll come to a sign for some lakes, but no lakes will be in sight. (About the same situation as we had with sheep!) Eventually you’ll come to big lake on the left and a smaller lake will be visible on the right through the trees. This is a great place to take a break for a snack (and to look in vain for a sheep).
After this scenic rest stop, continue on the trail, descending to cross 2 small creeks, and then follow the trail up to the reservoir.
Travel southwest across the earthen dam and then take the left trail uphill, perhaps following the sheep scat? Stop when you reach a small upright rectangular rock on the right side of the trail. From here the reclusive sheep walked uphill on a bearing of 240°. When you reach a large pine at the top of the hill with a large boulder on the north side, check under the east end of the rock. This may be the last bighorn sheep that calls these mountains home. Please take care to shelter him well so he can continue to represent the original meaning of the naming of these mountains.
Retrace your steps to return to your vehicle.
Please let us know if you hunted this Bighorn. Since he may be the last in the mountains, we hope he survives!