Mount Holmes – 22mi / 35.3km
This huge day to the lookout on Mount Holmes is an epic hike that rewards you with incredible views and varied terrain along the way. The trail begins by crossing and following along a wonderful meadow. After walking in and out of trees and under some power lines, you cross Winter Creek. While there is no bridge, there’s a good chance a fallen tree can be found to cross over.
From here, the trail parallels the creek upstream and climbs up a grassy slope peppered with younger lodgepole pines. It continues to climb past the junction with the trail that heads to Grizzly Lake. The trail wraps around a little ridge with some great views, then begins to descend to Winter Creek. For the next few miles, the trail alternates between meadows and younger stands of trees. This culminates in a large meadow with a few campsites and the junction with the Trilobite Lake Trail.
The trail continues left on the Winter Creek Trail past the Trilobite Lake Trail, and begins to climb through lodgepole pines. It eventually breaks out of the trees from a more recent burn to a broad, grassy landscape. The trail traverses until it reaches the rocky flanks of Mount Holmes. Here it briefly goes through a stand of alpine trees, then climbs up to the dryer alpine landscape with low growing plants clinging to the rocky fields. Pikas and marmots can be found amongst the scree fields.
The trail comes over a saddle with views to the Indian Creek drainage and tall peaks. The trail switchbacks across the rocky slope, and leaves the last of the trees as you climb the barren slopes. The trail turns for a final time as it travels the level ridgeline on its approach to the unstaffed lookout. There are panoramic views in all directions.
Be careful of thunderstorms as there is no cover and the time to reach the summit easily coincides with afternoon lightning. Also, bring plenty of water as the last five miles to the summit have no water source.
Trailhead: The signed trailhead for Mt. Holmes is located south of Indian Creek Campground, between Norris Junction and Mammoth Hot Springs.
Elevation Gain: 3,500ft / 1,050m – Elevation Loss: 3,500ft / 1,050m