Yellowstone and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness: Hellroaring Creek to Coyote Creek

July 01, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

This trip starts and ends in Yellowstone National Park, but both nights of camping are outside the park's northern boundary in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. We had never been to the area, so we weren't sure if there were designated camp spots or not. But we had a few areas in mind that would make a good camp spot if we could find a clearing. The hike was uneventful until we decided to stop for a snack around the Montana/Wyoming border. Once we sat down in the shade we were immediately bombarded by mosquitoes. We threw our rain gear on and sprayed some bug repellant. Little did we know that this wouldn't be the last bug encounter on this trip.

20200626-jwf-899920200626-jwf-8999NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200626-jwf-900320200626-jwf-9003NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200626-jwf-901120200626-jwf-9011NPS / Jacob W. Frank

After a couple hours on the Hellroaring Trail, we made it to the northern boundary and it was heavily forested. We were a little worried about finding a spot, but it turns out there is a hardened site with hang pole and all. We were pleasantly surprised. AND it even had a nice swimming hole to jump in for a swim and cool off.

20200626-jwf-901920200626-jwf-9019NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200626-jwf-902920200626-jwf-9029NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200626-jwf-903220200626-jwf-9032NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200626-jwf-909720200626-jwf-9097NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200626-jwf-911020200626-jwf-9110NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200626-jwf-911520200626-jwf-9115NPS / Jacob W. Frank

The next morning we woke up early to beat the heat and started our climb. The wildflowers were blooming and the scary beautiful. Not a ton of shade so the day started getting hot as the sun rose higher.

20200627-jwf-916720200627-jwf-9167NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-918520200627-jwf-9185NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-919320200627-jwf-9193NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-920120200627-jwf-9201NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-920820200627-jwf-9208NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Eventually we made it to our first trail junction and bridge crossing. There was a gigantic log jam at the base of the bridge. We couldn't help but think that was an accident waiting to happen if there was a flood.

20200627-jwf-921420200627-jwf-9214NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-923720200627-jwf-9237NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-926520200627-jwf-9265NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-927320200627-jwf-9273NPS / Jacob W. Frank

We also stopped by the Historic Hellroaring Station, built in 1925, for a snack break and photo.

20200627-jwf-928120200627-jwf-9281NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-928820200627-jwf-9288NPS / Jacob W. Frank

From here we would cross over Hellroaring Creek again and start our climb up and around Bull Mountain. By this time in the day we are starting to drag a little bit, the wind died down, and the temps were warm. As soon as we started our climb we entered into a forested and swampy area that was FULL of mosquitoes. It was too hot for rain gear, and the bug spray only did so much. The only thing we could think to do was to hike as fast as we could to get out of the trees and find a breeze. 

20200627-jwf-931520200627-jwf-9315NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-932820200627-jwf-9328NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-933520200627-jwf-9335NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-934820200627-jwf-9348NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Just as we were about to bonk, we gained the saddle around Bull and were greeted by a glorious wind in our face. We took the time to sit in the shade to cool off and refuel. While we were sitting we saw two people ride by on horseback in the distance; the only people we saw for the entire three days of the trip.

20200627-jwf-935620200627-jwf-9356NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-936120200627-jwf-9361NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Our goal was to camp as close to the boundary as possible, near reliable water. Since we were kind of winging it, when we came across a flat spot under some big trees, we figured that would work as good as any other spot. We dropped our packs and set up camp.

20200627-jwf-937220200627-jwf-9372NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-937920200627-jwf-9379NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200627-jwf-938220200627-jwf-9382NPS / Jacob W. Frank

The following morning the wind died completely and we could hear the mosquitoes buzzing outside our tent, waiting for their next meal. We decided that having a leisurely breakfast was a bad idea, so we ate breakfast as we walked in circles in rain gear attempting to keep bugs out of our face. Then we packed up and headed back towards the park along Coyote Creek. We reached the boundary after a mile or so and it was mostly smooth sailing back to the trailhead. As we neared some of the park camp sites, it started raining on us a bit, but nothing torrential.

20200628-jwf-940520200628-jwf-9405NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200628-jwf-941520200628-jwf-9415NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200628-jwf-942320200628-jwf-9423NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200628-jwf-943820200628-jwf-9438NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200628-jwf-944220200628-jwf-9442NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20200628-jwf-945220200628-jwf-9452NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Right before we crossed the Hellroaring Bridge over the Yellowstone River, a black bear sauntered down the trail forcing us to jump off the trail to keep a safe distance. On the climb out back to the car we saw another black bear and cub. Apparently it's a very berry area!

Trip notes: Other than the bugs, the 22 miles and 3,300' elevation gain was a real treat. I think my favorite part of the trip was the section along the Hellroaring where we camped and got to swim. We also hiked by the Buffalo Plateau area and I think we need to explore in that area a little more. Overall, fun trip and great to see a new area!

Screen Shot 2024-01-03 at 6.01.45 PMScreen Shot 2024-01-03 at 6.01.45 PM Screen Shot 2024-01-03 at 6.01.14 PMScreen Shot 2024-01-03 at 6.01.14 PM


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