Family Handcart Trek

Nestled in the southwest corner of Wyoming you’ll find a part of the Immigrant Trail that was heavily used by pioneers, but not known to many today. You and your family will stay with us for two nights and three days while you walk on the original Pioneer Trail, view graves along the way, camp at the Muddy Creek, and experience the beauty of Wyoming. Trekkers will use replicas of pioneer handcarts.

Trek Dates: July 21-23, 2022

An Historical Experience

This exciting historical experience is designed for families. All ages may participate, including teens, young children, babies, parents and grandparents. It is open to all who wish to attend. (It is not limited to Ensign Peak Academy students.) High school students may attend without a parent. Elementary and middle school students must attend with a parent or guardian.

Read excerpts from pioneer journals telling of their experiencing passing through the area we will be visiting: Pioneer Journal Excerpts

Activities

Tour of Historic Fort Bridger

Your pioneer adventure begins with a tour of this historic fort. Jim Bridger established Fort Bridger in 1843 as a fur trading post. It was composed of two double-log houses about 40 feet long that were joined by a pen for horses. The Mormon Pioneer Company reached the fort on July 7, 1847, and spent a day there.

Here the main Oregon-California Trail turned north toward Fort Hall, and the Mormon Trail/Hastings Cutoff continued west to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. The fort served as a Pony Express, Overland Stage and transcontinental telegraph station in the 1860s and was garrisoned by the U.S. Army between 1857 and 1890.

The fort has a museum/visitor center and a reconstruction of Bridger’s log trading post.

Image Source: Wikipedia Fort Bridger Robert Corby 2006 CC BY-SA 3.0

Black Powder Shooting

Black powder rifles have been in existence for hundreds of years.  These rifles shaped history as they were used for hunting, self-defense, and war. This experience will offer you the opportunity to better understand the workings of the black powder rifle: powder, patch, round ball, ramrod.  You will then step up to the firing line and take your turn, loading and shooting this historic rifle.

Tomahawk Throwing

Tomahawks, also known by the pioneers as the hand axe, was a tool carried on the belts of many men.  Often during the laborious tasks of cutting timber, men challenged each other to a contest of throwing a tomahawk into a nearby stump or tree.  This experience can be enjoyed by all in your group.  It challenges the body and mind as you learn to rotate the “hawk” just right so you can “stick it”!

Flint & Steel Fire Building

Before matches and lighters, pioneers learned to produce and catch a spark using flint and steel.  Flint is a material that is found naturally along the historic pioneer trail.  As the people migrated west, they kept an eye out for this important mineral.  When combined with steel it creates a spark.  In order for that spark to be useful, it needs to be caught in a nest of small tinder, then gently blown in while holding in your hands.  This experience will teach you how to use the flint and steel, build a proper tinder nest and have your fire in hand.  

Pony Express Rider

Before text, email, postal service and telegraph, the nation had the Pony Express.  These young men often rode a horse for an entire day, stopping along the way for a fresh mount. They brought thousands of letters across the country.  Our camp will be right on the original Pony Express trail.  You can choose to have the news brought in, or a personal letter delivered by rider and steed to a friend or family members attending this trek.

Two-man Saw

Pioneers didn’t have gasoline to run a chainsaw. This saw required man power, or sometimes woman power.  It often required two people working in tandem to prepare the timbers for their intended purpose, including firewood, structural timbers and boards for carpentry.  Your group will use a two man saw to experience the push and pull teamwork that comes with this tool. Try not to get in a bind!

Square Dancing

Oh, this is an experience!  After a long day of trekking, people were tired, sore and bored.  When members of their company pulled out a musical instrument, one that was small enough to carry, such as a fiddle, mountain dulcimer or harmonica, it didn’t take long for the weariness of the day to wash away with the music!  Laughter and dancing was soon to follow.  You’ll be surprised by this experience and the joy you will feel as the music starts to play and you connect with friends and family.

Pioneer Games

Pioneers found many small and big ways to keep their spirits up and keep moving forward.  They played tug-of-war, stick pull and marbles.  They took care of necessary tasks while on the trail such as churning butter and making soap.  During your Family Handcart Trek, you too, will experience these activities.  Marbles, for example, lured children and adults to their knees for a game of keeps.  The one with the steely was usually king!  You’ll feel the blessings of participating in these small and simple things. You’ll also get a bit of a work out as you churn butter for your dinner!

Historical Sites

Gravel Hill

You will have to double up your strength as you descend down Gravel Hill. This was the steepest descent the pioneers had come across thus far in their travels. An attempt was made to zigzag the wagons down this hill and rock walls were built up on the corners to keep the wagons from tipping over. You can still see remains of the rock walls. Also on this hill and all along the trail you will see rocks with iron rubbings from the wagon and handcart wheels.

Muddy Creek Camp

When the pioneers arrived at this camp they were pleased with the bunch grass and good water for their stock. While you stay at this camp you will be able to view pioneer graves and remains of the Pony Express Stop. This was a heavily used camp on the trail. Between the years 1847 and 1869, approximately 65,000 pioneers crossed through it. 250,000 immigrants journeyed through here on their way to California for the gold rush. Captain Johnston’s army of 2,000 men camped here. The Pony Express ran through this camp and there was also a station here built by Moses Byrne. The stage line ran through here and the very first telegraph line went through this camp. The Lincoln Highway and the first transcontinental railroad bed ran within two miles of this camp. In 1856 the rescue companies camped here with the Martin and Willey Handcart Companies, on their way back to the Salt Lake Valley.

Williams Hollow and Coppra Springs

This hollow was named after William H Bedford. He was buried here July 4, 1852, having died at age 28. There are other graves in this hollow that you will be able to view. In this hollow there is also a spring called Copperas Springs. 

Cost & Details

Ages 12 to adult: $479

Ages 6-11: $349

Ages 5 and under: Free

Trek Dates: July 21-23, 2022

Trek Location: The trail and campgrounds are located in the southwest corner of Wyoming, just 100 miles from the Wasatch Front. 

Arrival Location: Please plan to arrive at the Fort Bridger State Historic Site by 9:00 am on July 21st. It is a 2-hour drive from Salt Lake City.

Driving Directions to Fort Bridger: Take I-80 east out of Salt Lake City to Evanston WY. Take exit 34, which is the Fort Bridger Exit and go east until you arrive at the historic Fort Bridger on the right side as you come into town of Fort Bridger.

Families will travel in their own vehicles from Fort Bridger to the location where the trek will begin. Driving Directions from Fort Bridger to the handcart trek starting location will be provided by Ben Kemp upon departure from the fort.

The trek will end between 3:00 – 4:00 pm on July 23rd.

Family Handcart Trek Location Map (after Fort Bridger)

Supplies & Equipment

WE PROVIDE:

  • authentic pioneer canvas tents
  • delicious dutch oven meals
  • water
  • firewood
  • potties
  • supplies for all trek experiences

YOU PROVIDE:

  • sleeping bags
  • sleeping pads
  • 2 changes of pioneer-themed clothing
  • western hat or bonnet
  • warm outerwear layers, including a coat
  • Good quality, broken-in walking shoes or hiking boots
  • personal items
  • Insect repellant that prevents ticks and mosquitos
  • sunscreen
  • personal items

Rules

We welcome you to this part of the Pioneer Trail. While you are here you will be walking across several working ranches. We hope you enjoy your stay with us, but we hope you will follow these rules so the opportunity of the trail will continue for others.

Ranch Rules

Close All Gates, whether they are open when you go in or not, make sure you close them when you go through.

You will have opportunity to see animals and wildlife. Do not bother them, throw rocks at them or chase them. Remember you are in their territory. Be respectful of them.

Trail Rules

Stay on trail as much as possible. This helps save wear and tear on the ranchers land.

Do not drive any vehicle onto the meadows. A handcart will be available for you to haul your belongings in.

Fire barrels will be provided for your use. Please put rocks under them so they will not burn the grass.

In each campground there is only a 1000 gallon tank, please be frugal in your use of the water.

FAQs

Q: What will temperatures be like?

A: Daytime is warm, but nights and mornings are chilly. Dress in layers and be sure to bring a coat. 

Q: How far will we trek each day?

A: approximately 5-8 miles

Q: Can I take artifacts home that I find on the trails?

A: No, please leave all artifacts where they are so all can see them. Take as many pictures of them as you please, but leave them on the trails.

Q: Is there a place to park vehicles?

A: Yes, there is a gravel parking area.

Q: Can we bring horses?

A: No, there is too much liability because horses are unpredictable.

Q: Can we bring UTVs or ATVs?

A: No, all motor vehicles must be parked in the parking lot during the trek. Only the trek production team is allowed to use motor vehicles. 

Q: Does the wind blow?

A: Yes

Q: What are the campsites like?

A: Rustic campgrounds with fire-pits, port-a-potties and water. We want this experience to be as authentic as reasonably possible.

Q: What are the bathroom facilities like?

A: Port-a-potties are located at the campsites and half-way along the trails.

Q: Is hand sanitizer available at the port-a-potties?

A: Yes, but it occasionally runs out so we recommend that each trekker bring their own bottle.

Q: Are there snakes?

A: Yes, snakes can be seen along the trail but there are no rattlesnakes or other venomous snakes due to the high elevation.

Q: Are there ticks or mosquitoes?

A: Yes, so please be prepared for both with proper repellant and clothing. 

Q: What are the dimensions of the handcarts?

A: Handcarts are 4’x4’ with 11” high sides. Wheels are 54” in diameter.

Q: How many people will share each handcart?

A: In general, 8-10 people will share each handcart. Families will either have their own handcart or share a handcart with another family or individual(s) depending on the number of people. (You will want plenty of people to push and pull your handcart.)

Q: What is the terrain like?

A: The terrain consists of flat to rolling hills interspersed with washes, sagebrush, grass and juniper trees. There are a couple of steeper hills such as “gravel hill.” There is a good combination of flat terrain and hills to provide a variety of handcart trekking experiences.