The Garnet Hill Loop and Hellroaring Creek Trail in Yellowstone National Park are two great hikes with a nice combination of creeks, forest, vast sagebrush meadows and the Yellowstone River. They can be done separately or paired together for a long day hike.
I started out on a nice, sunny day at the Garnet Hill Loop trailhead and worked my way across the vast sagebrush meadows. Summer flowers were in bloom across the beautiful meadows. I came across a herd of Pronghorn Antelope with a doe that had twin fawns. As I continued on towards Yanceys, I passed a large bull Bison bedded down. I followed the trail across the road as it continued to Yancey’s.
From there, the trail joined up with Elk Creek and left the meadow for a nice, cool forest. The valley walls closed in with the rocky slopes of Garnet Hill with large rock slides coming down to the edge of the trail. As Elk Creek approached the Yellowstone River, it began tumbling in pretty cascades. From there, a spur trail leaves the loop and crosses over to the Hellroaring Creek Trail. I decided to take that trail, where I’d return later to finish the loop.
The spur trail took me to the Hellroaring Creek Trail right before it crossed over the Yellowstone River. The large, pack bridge is over a wonderful whitewater section high above the river with tall canyon walls and is a destination in and of itself. After the bridge, the trail entered an interesting older forest, then a small meadow, another forest, then the vast, treeless meadows of Buffalo Plateau.
After a toasty traverse with fantastic views, I got to the pond that sits at the edge of Hellroaring Creek. This is a popular place to stop at the creek and turn around, but I followed a trail down the creek to its confluence with the Yellowstone River which was fantastic. I sat near a campsite next to the river to enjoy the water and numerous birds flitting in and around the water.I returned the way I came, across the plateau, over the river, and across the spur trail to finish the Garnet Hill Loop.
The loop continued on, climbing up the northwestern flanks of Garnet Hill with better and better views looking across Buffalo Plateau and down on the Yellowstone River. It rounded the hill to the north onto a bench with more great views of the ever changing Yellowstone River. It entered the trees for a bit as it paralleled the river, opened up views in another nice meadow, then climbed through more trees to get back up to the vast sagebrush. From here the trail wandered up and down through vast meadows sprinkled with bison and views all around until the Tower Junction and Roosevelt Lodge came into view as I followed it back to my car.