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Hellroaring Creek

Intermediate
 4.6 (20) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Drop to a dramatic crossing of the Yellowstone and continue along the aptly-named Hellroaring Creek!


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Map Key

6.8

Miles

10.9

KM

Out and Back

6,460' 1,969 m

High

5,796' 1,767 m

Low

967' 295 m

Up

968' 295 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

24%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The area is frequented by grizzly bears, especially early in the season when they feed on elk carrion that failed to survive the harsh winter.

Overview

The trail drops to a dramatic crossing of the Yellowstone River on a steel suspension bridge, continues across a sagebrush flat, then swings south and follows Hellroaring Creek to its mouth.

Description

The trail begins with a steep 600-foot drop in first 1.1 miles, through Douglas-Fir forests that show the effects of the 1988 fires. It passes Garnet Hill Spur Trail (on right) at .8 miles and soon arrives at a dramatic crossing of the Yellowstone River. Here an impressive steel suspension bridge constructed in 1935 hangs above a small rock gorge. Far below the mighty Yellowstone rushes furiously by. If you want to shorten your outing, this is a nice spot to turn around.

The trail continues through a stand of large Douglas-firs. The name is hyphenated because it is not a true fir. Its generic name is pseudotsuga, meaning "false hemlock." In Yellowstone they are found only in a narrow elevation band between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Its most distinctive feature is its female cone, which contains three-pronged, feather-like bracets between its scales. Look around for examples of these unusual seed cones. You may also spy one of the numerous middens that squirrels have built in the area. These are large moist mounds of discarded scales and other inedible remains, as well as freshly cut cones and seeds, stored for later consumption. It took many generations of squirrels to fashion the middens that are found here.

The trail leaves the forest, passes a junction with the Buffalo Plateau Trail (at 1.5 miles), and continues across a sagebrush flat. The prominent conical peak that lies ahead is Hellroaring Mountain (8,363'). It's the largest outcropping of granite in Yellowstone. Most of the park's granite has been buried beneath more recent volcanic debris. Granite is a form of hard volcanic rock that cooled very slowly underground, allowing crystals to form. On the opposite end of the spectrum is obsidian, a black volcanic glass, which cools so quickly no impurities are allowed to form.

At the 2-mile mark, a junction with the Hellroaring Stock Cutoff Trail is passed (on the right). The trail continues to the left and in just a few yards reaches another junction. Leave the main trail here and follow the spur trail to campsites 2H4 and 2H2 as it parallels Hellroaring Creek. The creek is said to have received its name from an early prospector who went ahead of his party to scout a route along the Yellowstone River. Upon his return he reported that the next creek to be crossed was a real "hell roarer" and the name stuck.

At the 3.4-mile mark the spur trail ends at the confluence of Hellroaring Creek and the Yellowstone River (near campsite 2H2). It is a delightful spot, with a sandy beach shaded by one large cottonwood and a number of Douglas-fir trees. You may want to bring your fishing gear along on this trip! Angling for cutthroat trout is excellent in Hellroaring Creek and the Yellowstone.

Return to the trailhead by retracing your steps. Those who want to explore a bit more before returning can follow the Hellroaring Stock Cutoff Trail north along the creek. The trail leads through open meadows and then along the creek for 2 miles to a bridged crossing.

Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.

Flora & Fauna

Chance to see elk, buffalo, coyote, and grizzly.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Carter

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 20 votes

#1

in Tower

#440

Overall
  4.6 from 20 votes
5 Star
55%
4 Star
45%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Tower

#15

in Wyoming

#440

Overall
340 Views Last Month
7,584 Since Apr 29, 2016
Intermediate

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Photos

The Hellroaring Creek Trail drops quickly from the trailhead to the Yellowstone River.
Apr 26, 2016 near Tower J…, WY
Yellowstone gorge looking west from the suspension bridge on Hellroaring Creek Trail.
Jan 15, 2016 near Tower J…, WY
Suspension Bridge on the Yellowstone River trail (looking north)
Jan 6, 2019 near Tower J…, WY

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Check-Ins

Aug 9, 2020
Alyson Mullin
Jul 19, 2020
Jessica Clausen
Great views! Wildflowers and finishes where the Hellroaring meets the Yellowstone. 7.5mi — 3h 30m
Jul 12, 2020
Jacob Stuckey
w/ Heather. Saw bison, pronghorn and buck elk.
Jul 6, 2020
F Blmgrn
Jun 24, 2020
Graham Mayfield
Awesome hike. Had a bear cross in front of us. 2mi — 1h 08m
Jun 20, 2020
Angie Marsh
Sep 25, 2019
Cam Hill
Jul 31, 2019
Rich Bishop
7mi — 10h 30m