Hiking Yellowstone’s Garnet Hill Loop Trail
Start in Pleasant Valley then ascend to 6,350 feet.
Wander over gently rolling hills covered in sagebrush and cast a line in the Yellowstone River on this animal-dotted 8.3-mile lollipop, the Garnet Hill Loop Trail.
- Head out in a counter-clockwise direction through Pleasant Valley for 0.5 miles. Elk, bison and pronghorn antelope often graze in these flats near Tower Junction, so keep an eye out for them. You’ll also notice large boulders in this valley, known as glacial erratics swept there by the glaciers of Beartooth Plateau.
- Continue north when the trail splits at 0.5 miles and you’ll quickly reach the hike’s highest point at 6,350 feet.
- At mile 0.8 look for your first glimpse of the Yellowstone River and its intersection with the Lamar River. Pull out your fly rod and seek out one of the many easy-access spots down to the water. Look to the northeast over the next 1.5 miles to see the Buffalo Plateau and the Absaroka Beartooth Mountains in the distance.
- Trek down a steep grade for a short distance at mile 2.4, heading into a copse of pines before reaching a valley often full of wildlife.
- The trail starts to rise again after 3.5 miles as you circle around Garnett Hill’s (yep, the hill is spelled differently than the trail) northern edge.
- Look for the junction with the Hellroaring Trail at mile 4.4. Follow Elk Creek and keep south/left heading toward Pleasant Valley.
- Watch for mule deer and bison over the next 1.5 miles as you walk along the creek in the shade of alders looming above.
- You’ll find a footbridge at mile 5.8. Here you’ll leave the forest and arrive at a grouping of picnic tables set up for the Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout.
- Head across the valley in an easterly direction until reaching a wooden footbridge at 6.8 miles.
- At mile 7.25 your trail rejoins the trail section you first traversed, completing your loop leaving just the “stick” of your lollipop loop to finish.
How to get to Garnet Hill Loop Trailhead
From Mammoth Hot Springs Park Headquarters:
- Drive roughly 18.4 miles east on route 212 to Tower Junction.
- At Tower Junction make a left and continue toward Cooke City.
- Look for the Garnet Hill Loop Trailhead on the left 0.3 miles past this intersection.
- Park in the small lot opposite the trailhead.
NOTE: Do not park in front of the footbridge that crosses the small creek as horseback riders from the Roosevelt Lodge use it to access the nearby trails.