Slough Creek Trail
ElevationAscent: 2,676' 816 m
Descent: -466' -142 m
High: 8,514' 2,595 m
Low: 6,281' 1,914 m
GradeAvg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)
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“The broad, open meadow of spectacular Slough Creek is a hiker's dream and a fisherman's holy grail!”— Tom Carter
The trail begins with a decent 400-foot climb in first mile. Enjoy occasional views to the southwest of Little America Meadows, through which lower Slough Creek flows to join the Lamar River. The trail tops the hill, drops 170 feet, and enters the "First Meadow" at the 2-mile mark. Here the spectacular beauty of Slough Creek's broad, open meadows unfolds before you. Nearby the Buffalo Fork Trail splits to the left and makes a difficult ford of Slough Creek and an NPS patrol cabin is passed on the right.
The creek was named in 1867 by gold prospectors who said it "Twas but a slough," and the name stuck. Slough Creek is the holy grail for many fly fishermen, in fact some guides proclaim it to be the finest cutthroat trout stream in America, if not the world!
The trail briefly rises away from the creek then rejoins it at 3.7 miles. It then skirts the edge of the valley, rising gently for the next 13 miles, before beginning a long 1500 foot climb to the creek's headwaters. Nearby Slough Creek rolls tirelessly along on it's meandering path. At 5.8 miles notice how the creek has over time changed its course and left scars on the land, even a small oxbow lake. In July, wildflowers mantle the valley. Wild onion is one of the most prevalent. Its slender stem is topped by a clump of small reddish-purple flowers. The familiar smell is a giveaway.
At 7.1 miles the trail passes the Elk Tongue Patrol Cabin (here the Bliss Pass Trail splits to the right). Our trail continues north, closely following the creek for miles. To the northeast Cutoff Mountain dominates the skyline. At 10.6 miles the trail leaves Yellowstone and passes the posh Silver Tip Ranch, a century-old guest ranch.
At 13 miles the trail passes a NFS patrol cabin and at 14.4 miles fords Slough Creek. Thereafter it enters Frenchy Meadows, named for Frenchy Duret, a poacher who settled here in the 1890s. He was killed in 1922 by a grizzly he trapped. His bloody death was splashed across newspapers nationwide. His grave is at the foot of the hill to the left of the meadow.
The trail beyond the meadows is seldom traveled. It closely follows Slough Creek another 12 miles to a hydraulic divide between Slough Creek and the Boulder River.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.
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Local Club: Yellowstone Forever
Jul 15, 2019: Connect with Yellowstone this Winter
Jul 10, 2019: A Day with the Youth Conservation Corps
Land Manager: National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park