Here is a post I did from this hike back in May 2009. We started at the Hellroaring trailhead and finished up by the LDS church in Gardiner.
Last weekend my friend Carl and I went on backpack trip in Yellowstone. I'd been wanting to do this trail for awhile since it is one of the first to melt and be accessible in the spring time. Mare wouldn't let me go by myself so luckily I was able to talk Carl into going. He had never backpacked before but the trail description didn't sound to hard so I figured he could handle it. He handled it better than I did. I pulled a groin muscle about 5 miles in hopping across a marsh spring. It was the hardest thing to make it the rest of the 15+ miles to get out. Carl probably thinks I'm just old and couldn't keep up but it really hurt. We ended up going 21 miles all together. Really nice the first day with great river access the second day. It took me all week to finally upload the pictures. Nothing special just some pictures with general descriptions. hope you like them.
Firt sign at the beginning trailhead had us looking for Grizzlys since we were to walk right by the closed trail. Definitaly grizzly area but none to be seen.
First real look at were we were heading. We will drop down to the valley floor then make our way straight ahead to the Hellroaring river then head left. I'm pretty sure that is Hellroaring mountain in the middle.
Another look from the same spot. We will drop down to the valley floor then cross to the left in the picture.
There is a suspension bridge almost a mile into the trail across the yellowstone river. It is in a tight gorge where the water looked really deep.
The trail descriptions I read said the trail went through the wintering grounds of the elk and made it look like a graveyard. The description fit pretty good for antlers. We were a mile in when we saw our first one, we probably ended up seeing more than we could count before we were through.
Just some shots around the Hellroaoring area
First big herd of elk we encountered. Kinda small in the shot but they are on the right with a buffalo on the left.
Some wildflowers were out
The ranger told us we wouldn't be able to ford Hellroaring river and would have to use the stock bridge, which was a 3 mile detour. We reached the river so soon into our hike we didn't even check out the crossing site figuring it would be a nice scenic detour anyways. At the end of the bridge you can see some antlers in the shadow of the rocks.
Hellroaring river would not have been to dangerous to cross and next time I would't skip it unless the water was freezing of course.
Carl was up ahead and spotted some Grizzly tracks that were hardened in the last rain storm. This is as close as I've been to a Grizzly in 100 miles of hiking backcountry trail in Yellowstone.
Not far from the tracks was the ranger patrol cabin which a couple of guys were staying at working on a cabin right behind this one.
This is looking back at the Hellroaring draingage. This was probably the coolest area of the hike for me since it was so full of wildlife and nice meadows.
When we took a break for a snack we noticed this heard of Elk across the river from us. They were looking in our direction and kept running as a herd all the way out of sight then the next minute they would come back into view as if they didn't know what they wanted to do. There were alot of them in the herd.
After lunch we came up a little rise and there was a buffalo laying right in the middle of the trail. We both thought he was dead. When Carl asked out load if he was dead the buffalo jumped up and looked right at us giving his answer. We gave him a wide bearth and went around. When we were just passed him he turned in a circle and layed back down to sleep like dogs sometimes do.
We saw alot of elk the first day. Not sure if they are in this picture or not but there was a group in the back of this litle valley when we came over the rise. We also were distracted by the elk and took the wrong trail right here we went left around the marsh instead of right and had to retrace our steps. Too many game trails around the real trail.
Elk weren't the only sheds we saw.
More elk sheds
Heading down the trail.
This one is looking back towards the park road up high.
nice photo op
We had an unexpected encounter as we came over a rise in the trail. Carl just yelled to get my camera ready because we were going to get to see something. The fox was trotting up the trail right for us. We both stopped to watch but he just kept coming closer Carl even asked what he was supposed to do for a fox. Carl moved his foot a little making some noise so the fox just veered off around us and then went back on the trail never even slowing down a bit. He was really little just some long skinny legs and a tail.
One more look before we head down to the river floor and camp.
We camped in site 1r2. Wouldn't recommend it. It was probably the least attractive one we went by all day. Best thing about it was it set right on the river but there was no chance of seeing any wildlife except maybe a deer or rabbit. Very dry, sagebrush all around, a little bit of a disappointment after the great scenery we hiked in all day and I was hoping we would hear some wolves. Not here though.
Heading down the dry trail.
Look closely at the tree I knew this was along the trail somewhere from reports I'd read. But after all the sheds we had seen I still walked a couple steps past the tree before I realized what I was seeing. The antler caused the tree to split in two as it gets farther up the trunk.
We followed some fresh wolf tracks for awhile.
Just some proof I was there.
This is looking back up the canyon we hiked through.
Just some river scenery. This was a little alcove below an avalanche shoot with some solid ice in it.
I was ready to be done by this point. Looking ahead we still have to go around the dry hill in the distance : )
Carl is in the middle of this shot ahead of me since I'm limping along. You can see a retaining wall holding up the trail on the left. Would be really interesting going through this stretch during a thunderstorm.
Almost the last corner.
Good hike, highly recommened as a begining season hike in Yellowstone. The last half into Gardiner isn't that great but the first half makes up for it. If I did it again I'd spend more time in the Hellroaring area. Car shuttle isn't that much fun either.