This unit is bound on the south by the high and rugged ridge system of Polychrome Mountain. The Wyoming Hills form the equally jagged northern boundary. In between these two mountainous areas are a series of east to west passes on the north and south sides of Cabin Peak that provide travel corridors. The East Fork River marks the eastern boundary of the unit as it runs through a variety of terrain and geology in the Outer Range.
You can hike north on any one of the drainages or ridge systems in the area of Polychrome Overlook. Any northern route in this area will eventually intersect the East Fork River, allowing travel farther downstream along the west bank of the river. Unlike near the Park Road, multiple crossings of the East Fork are generally not required in the section of the river near Cabin Peak. The passes located on the north and south sides of Cabin Peak are gentle, vegetated divides. Either provides a good connection to the Toklat River (Unit 32). These are low elevation passes that have significant brush along the creeks, but often you can get above the brush and hike on tundra or rock.
Any of the small creek beds that lead up to the southern flanks of Polychrome Mountain are good options for a quick overnight hike into alpine terrain. These drainages are mostly brush-free, but you can’t travel more than a mile up most of them due to the steep ridge system which blocks further travel. Another approach possibility is a steep pass on the eastern flank of Polychrome Mountain that allows access through this rugged ridge system. This pass may involve travel on steep, icy snowfields and rocks.
The East Fork River gravel bar near Cabin Peak can be an excellent place for a base camp for a multi-night trip. A camp here allows you time to explore the southern end of the Wyoming Hills and/or Cabin Peak as day-hikes.
Additional Notes and/or Hazards
The East Fork River can be swift and dangerous. It is generally well-braided for approximately 8 miles north of the bridge, but after that it enters into a narrow canyon with no potential to cross. During summer rainstorms, the river can swell quickly, making a crossing by foot impossible without being swept downstream.
If you are camping in the drainages on the south side of Polychrome Mountain, be sure to have your tent out of view of the Park Road. Check with the Backcountry Information Center when you get your permit on current Toklat River conditions if you are planning to access this unit from the west side (Unit 32).
Last updated: April 14, 2015