GYE Archive

An archive of potential hikes in the GYE area, all on a single Caltopo map for easy reference.

Describing each hike moving roughly clockwise (sort of like a backwards S curve:

  • Spinx Loop: a long day hike of about 12 miles high up in the NW corner of the GYE region in Montana's Madison range.  The real scenic highlight is The Helmet, and this hike walks right by the big face of it.  But since you're right there it seems a shame not to summit The Sphinx while you're at it.  I'm not normally one for much peak-bagging for its own sake, but sometimes it seems like it's a shame not to when you're right there and it would be relatively easy to do so.
  • Sky Rim Trail Loop: in the very corner of Yellowstone National Park, in the Gallatin Range, this is probably an overnighter, maybe even two nights out if you want to take your time.  The Sky Rim Trail is itself the highlight, but going all the way to Shelf Lake and Sheep Mountain on the spur seems like an easy add-on.
  • Sepulcher and Electric Peak: Electric Peak is the highpoint of Yellowstone National Park, just across the state line in Montana.  Sepulcher has a trail that literally walks right up to the summit too, so it seems a shame to miss.  Although I've done this as a point to point, you can vary the return slightly; rather than turn north on the Glen Creek trail on the back, give Sepulcher a pass on the return and go over Snow Pass between Clagett Butte and Terrace Mountain.
  • Republic Peak: Although I claim to not be a peak-bagger, I do seem to have a lot of peaks to bag on this list.  This one, again, is more about going up to Republic Pass, though—and then from there, Republic Peak is an easy jaunt of only another 500 feet of elevation gain or so.  The Yellowstone National Park border is actually right here, on the pass, but you can avoid crossing and paying any fees if you want, I think.  To make this an interesting loop, if the weather is nice, you could also walk along Woody Ridge from the peak, and it looks like you can make your way all the way back down to the car from there.  If not, well, you can always walk out on the ridge and then head back the way you came.
  • Beartooth West Loop: The point of this route is to create a loop out of the majority of "The Beaten Path" route; at Fossil Lake, you get off the trail and bushwhack over to Aero Lakes.  From there, head up the valley towards Granite Peak—bag it if you're so inclined (I probably won't be; even being really close, it's a major undertaking to bag Granite Peak) and then heading back east on the Granite Creek drainage to rejoin the trail.  I've also included a small spur to go up to Martin Lake and the hanging valley above it.
  • Beartooth East Loop: A view of some other famous sites in the Beartooths, including the Bear's Tooth itself, and Grasshopper Glacier.  I'm not 100% certain that I'm convinced that you can cross over from the Spirit Mountain and Grasshopper Glacier basin to the Sky Pilot Mountain and Hopper Glacier basin very easily, although the Caltopo looks promising, as does a lot of wrangling on the 3D view of Google Earth.  If it isn't doable, this will require some last minute updates and either becomes a longer Y-shaped double point to point, or you have to drop the Sky Pilot leg altogether.
  • Avalanche Peak: Although Caltopo doesn't show a trail here, I have it on good authority (from the park itself) that a well-developed, albeit steep, trail does indeed exist all the way to the summit of Avalanche Peak, which gives great views of the eastern edge of the park and the Absaroka Range to the east of it.  The distance is about 2 miles one way (4 miles round trip) with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet.  As a point of reference, the paved walk up from the Timpanogos parking lot to the cave entrance is about 1½ miles long and ascends just over 1,100 feet.  This is a bit longer and quite a bit steeper.  And not paved.
  • Teton Crest Trail: Definitely one of the classics of American wilderness hiking, although the permit system makes this maybe a bit tricky to plan.  I've mapped the entire trail from southern terminus to northern terminus at String Lake after coming out Paintbrush Canyon.  Most people would knock off the first day of hiking by starting at the tram; I'd rather hike to Moose Lake just outside the park boundary the first day, skip trying to camp at Marion Lake, and go straight to Death Canyon Shelf for the second night.  Either way, this is a surprisingly not very long hike; less than 40 miles, even with the extension, and even going slow and really enjoying the experience, it's hard to see it taking more than 4 days.  Does require some form of shuttling as it most definitely is not a loop.
  • Shoal Falls Extended Loop: The basic Shoal Falls loop is a fairly well established (albeit lightly hiked) loop that has you overnight at Shoal Lake and get back to the car on the second day.  I've expanded the loop by also adding in Brewster Lake and then a hike upstream along the Gros Ventre river and the flanks of Black Peak, which probably makes it a 2-nighter.
  • Wind Rivers North: This is a point to point, and the purpose is to explore the famous Titcomb Basin (and it's neighbor, Indian Basin.)  For a little variety, I've started from the Green River Lakes Trailhead rather than Elkhart, and this will require the Knapsack Col crossing into Titcomb, but that's a well-known and oft-traveled route these days.  What it does not do, and which may be an opportunity for future expansion, is explore the north-eastern side of the ridge that makes up the eastern edge of Titcomb and Indian basins.  Which is too bad, because they contain big glaciers and Gannet Peak, the Wyoming High Point.  But glacier travel is its own big can of worms, and for the time being, I've left it off.
  • Wind Rivers South: A loop that sees Cirque of the Towers from Big Sandy Trailhead, but which first tries to explore some of the hinterlands that will hopefully have less crowds than the cirque, like Pyramid Lake, the East Fork River basin, Mount Hooker with its' gigantic north face, and ranger park before heading in to the Cirque around Lizard Head Mountain.  I've marked spur exploration to the Cathedral Lakes and the South Fork Lakes, and an additional spur exploration from Ranger Park of the Washakie Lakes up to Washakie Pass area could be added as well.

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