The Bliss Pass
Trail is an important connector trail. This 7.1 mile trail links the upper reaches of the Pebble Creek
Trail with the Slough Creek Trail
. But 9350 foot Bliss Pass
is a major destination in itself well worth the time and effort needed to reach it!
The trail is described here starting on the Pebble Creek
side, since hiking from east to west the trail gains 1,100 feet less in elevation than coming from the opposite direction. To reach the Bliss Pass
Trail from the Pebble Creek
side, one must hike 8.7 miles up Pebble Creek
(from the Pebble Creek
Campground Trailhead) or 5.4 miles down Pebble Creek
(from the Warm Creek Trailhead near the Northeast Entrance). Hardy hikers can reach Bliss Pass
in a 15 total mile out-and-back from the Warm Creek Trailhead. It's also possible to hike it as a 20-mile trek from the Warm Creek Trailhead through upper Pebble Creek
, over Bliss Pass
, down Slough Creek
, and out at Slough Creek
The Bliss Pass
Trail traverses the mountain ridge that connects Mount Hornaday on the south with Cuttoff Mountain looming ominously to the north. From the trailhead, the trail immediately fords Pebble Creek
, which by July is usually not a problem. It then quickly sets to steeply climbing 1,600 feet to the pass. At this lower elevation, trees are a mixed forest of spruce, fur, and lodgepole pine. Soon the trail skirts a fire burn area from the 1988 fires. As you climb higher, the views to the south (Mount Hornaday) and east (upper Pebble Creek
) become increasingly good. Near the pass five-needled Limber pine is added to the mix.
At the 2-mile mark, the trail abruptly levels out and the trees become sparse as you reach the eastern side of the pass. Be sure to scramble up the small hill to the right for the best views of upper Pebble Creek
which forms a magnificent amphitheater. The snow-clad Beartooth Mountains are also visible to the northeast beyond the park boundary. I thought "Bliss" was an appropriate name for such a beautiful pass until I discovered it was named for a local rancher named Bliss.
The trail continues over fairly level terrain and then begins its long descent (2,700 feet) to the beautiful meadows of Slough Creek
. At the 7.1 mile mark, the trail ends at its junction with the Slough Creek Trail
some 7 miles from Slough Creek
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone
Small bands of bighorn sheep are sometimes seen along the rocky slopes around Bliss Pass
. In late May, the ewes separate from the herd and seek the safety of steep rocky ledges to give birth. They usually deliver a solitary lamb. Fully developed when born, the young lamb takes its first steps within 30 minutes. Both the males (ram) and females (ewe) have horns that are never shed. Only the ram will develop the full 360 degree curl.
The northeast corner of Yellowstone is one of the only areas of the park where you have an opportunity to view mountain goats. Though not native to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, these fascinating animals were introduced into the Beartooth Mountains in the 1940s and have crossed over into the park. If present, their stark white bodies are easily spotted against the darker mountains.