Thermopolis is one of my favorite little spots to layover during travel I have to do around Wyoming. This small town is home to Hot Springs State Park, a great place to explore travertine terraces up close, take a soak in thermal mineral waters, and hike in unique scenery.
This trip through Thermopolis I decided to do two short evening hikes instead of wandering from my hotel to the various stuff in Hot Springs State Park (why I have never blogged much of my previous trips, I do not know, aside from the fact I just don’t always blog every little thing I do). Despite temperatures nearing 100 even at 5pm, I set out first to hoof it up Roundtop Mountain.
Roundtop Mountain (5003 feet/1525 meters) is a prominent butte whose view greets you as you arrive in Thermopolis from the Wind River Canyon in the south. The butte was donated by the family of Lewis Freudenthal in 1986 to Hot Springs County. A new, improved trail has been built that switchbacks up the western side of Roundtop, replacing a more direct trail that required a rock scramble near the top. The new trail has a gentle grade thanks to switchbacks, and definitely is family friendly. (All Trails still has the old route on the app.)
It is only about a half mile to reach the flat summit plateu, where you can wander over to the geodetic marker and various summit cairns. There is also a great view of Thermopolis and surrounding landscape. Sadly, I encountered these giant flying red ant looking things, and they literally chased me off the summit as I crazily swatted them away from me. I spent enough time for a marker photo and quick selfie, and then ran off the summit. Literally, ran.
Overall, Roundtop Mountain took me 27 minutes to complete, with 1.36 miles as the total. I think this could be a great hike for those wanting something shorter, those with kids, or for those just needing to stretch the legs a bit while driving through the area. I wish I could’ve soaked up the views a bit more, but alas… giant insects.
With the insects of doom shortening my visit to Roundtop, I headed over the trailhead for T Hill (4784 feet/1458 meters), another staple hike in the area. The trailhead is located to the west of US Highway 20, across the highway from the disc golf course. An newer singletrack trail has also been built on T Hill in the last few years (with hopes to connect to Roundtop sometime soon!), and is open to both foot traffic and mountain bikes. T Hill is within the boundaries of Hot Springs State Park, but like everything else in the park, there is no entrance or day use fee. I could’ve technically walked to the trail from my hotel, but since I had to drive to the Roundtop trailhead, I was already out and about in a vehicle.
I was relieved to discovered I’d spend most of this hike on the shaded eastern side of T Hill, making the 90+ degree temperatures feel that much better. There was also a lack of giant flying red ants, which is always a perk!
The T Hill Trail forms a lollipop of about 3.5 miles in length, but you can get some good views of the Rainbow Terraces, Monument Hill, and Thermopolis even without completing the loop. I decided I did not need to do the full loop, just reach some viewpoints and the summit point of the hill. There are old doubletrack roads that criss-cross the singletrack, but there is very good signage to keep you on track.
Overall, my shortened T Hill hike was 2.63 miles and I spent one hour exploring. Not a bad way to spend an evening outdoors after a long day of driving and meetings!
There are more hiking opportunities within Hot Springs State Park, which offers over six miles of trails. Some of my favorites include walking the boardwalk atop the Rainbow Terraces out to the Swinging Bridge over the Bighorn River. Another option is to venture out on the Spirit Trail and then up to the summit of Monument Hill. A trail map can be found here.
Date Hiked: August 8, 2022
Trailhead: For Roundtop Mountain I used the trailhead off Roundtop Road, and for T Hill I used the trailhead off of US Highway 20
Total Mileage: 1.36 miles – Roundtop, 2.63 miles – T Hill
Weather: Clear and so freaking hot
Trail Conditions: Dry! Crazy insects on Roundtop
Cell Service: Full LTE Verizon service
Special Considerations: There could be a possibility of rattlesnakes due to relatively low elevation. I did not see any, however. On T Hill mountain bikes are allowed, who must yield to hikers. Both trails are free to access.