Alternative access to Hellroaring area

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 10:27:15 05/17/13

In Reply to: hellroaring trail posted by ursusani


There is one way to avoid the big vertical loss/gain at the beginning of the Hellroaring trail, but you trade vertical feet for many horizontal yards. One can take the Garnet Hill Loop from Tower Junction, walking the dirt road traversed by the horse-drawn coaches that take folks to the steak fry. You go past the cookout area about a quarter mile, and the foot trail enters forest. Garnet Hill will be on your right, and Elk Creek will be on your left. After a mile, maybe mile and a half, you come to where the terrain starts opening up as it nears the Yellowstone River. A spur trail goes off to the left, which is a short jaunt (maybe 100-200 yards), that crosses Elk Creek, and meets the lower portion of the Hellroaring trail, not too far from the bridge over the Yellowstone River.

You trade just short of a mile and a 400-500 foot vertical for what is probably 2-3 miles, with minimal vertical. There are marmot colonies in some of the small boulder fields on the flank of Garnet Hill, and there is sometimes great birding along Elk Creek.

If you've wandered the Hellroaring area, you might remember that once you cross the bridge, you have a mile or more of fairly flat terrain, as the trail approaches Hellroaring Creek. If you get out that way, you can hang a left at the creek, leave the formal trail, and follow a "social trail" downstream to the confluence of Hellroaring Creek and the Yellowstone River. There is a backcountry campsite at the confluence, and a small sandbar that affords one great fishing access.

Of course, if you hang a right at or near Hellroaring Creek, you have your choice of the Buffalo Plateau trail, Coyote Creek trail, or Hellroaring Creek trail, all of which go uphill for a long ways, but lead to all sorts of great places. You can save them for when you are back in serious hiking shape.

Before I forget, if you go down to the confluence, you can always enhance your wander by returning to the area near the bridge by (1) walking upstream along the bluff above the Yellowstone River or (2) taking the more direct route cross-country through the open country, aiming for the spot where the trail goes through the "mini-pass" after you cross the bridge.

If you do any element of this hike, carry pepper spray. The entirety of this hike is in bear country, where I have observed both black and grizzly bears over the years.


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