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Slough Creek Trail

Intermediate
 4.4 (5)

The broad, open meadow of spectacular Slough Creek is a hiker's dream and a fisherman's holy grail!


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Map Key

25.3

Miles

40.7

KM

Point to Point

8,514' 2,595 m

High

6,281' 1,914 m

Low

2,676' 816 m

Up

466' 142 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Few travel the full length of this trail. The first 10.6 miles of Slough Creek Trail lie in Yellowstone. Thereafter, it enters Custer Gallatin National Forest and continues 16 more miles along the creek to its headwaters in the heart of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. From there, it's many miles to the nearest road.

Description

The trailhead is found just south of Slough Creek Campground, 2 gravel-road miles north of the Northeast Entrance Road. The first 11+ miles of Slough Creek Trail follows an old wagon road that leads to the Silver Tip Ranch which lies just beyond Yellowstone's northern boundary.

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.

Flora & Fauna

Slough Creek is grizzly country. You also have opportunities to see bison, elk and sandhill crane.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Carter

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 5 votes

#9

in Tower

#7791

Overall
  4.4 from 5 votes
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Trail Rankings

#9

in Tower

#166

in Wyoming

#7,791

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Photos

Slough Creek, 2nd Meadow.
Jan 15, 2016 near Tower J…, WY
Overlooking 2S1- the best backcountry site on Slough Creek in YNP.
Jan 15, 2016 near Tower J…, WY
July sunset at 2S1, looking downstream.
Jan 15, 2016 near Tower J…, WY
Big bend in the first meadow.
Jan 14, 2016 near Tower J…, WY
Lower Slough, off trail.
Jan 14, 2016 near Tower J…, WY
Peaks in Slough Creek to the north of Yellowstone Park with permission from Ralph Maughan
May 10, 2016 near Tower J…, WY

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Check-Ins

Jul 10, 2020
Jacob Stuckey
Hiked approx. 3 mikes down trail with Heather.
Aug 12, 2019
Ken Hanson
Second meadow 5mi — 11h 44m
Jun 12, 2019
Carol Love
5mi
May 9, 2019
Rebecca Morrow
Aug 2, 2017
Sarah Westmen
Backpacked :) 11mi
Aug 8, 2016
Audrey Whitten
Jul 7, 2016
Sandy Kahut
17mi
May 29, 2016
Mindi Ridgeway
Took a small buffalo trail down to the water — 9h 00m