Hiking the Blacktail Creek Trail
Blacktail Deer Creek Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #16, Blacktail Deer Creek to the Yellowstone River
Blacktail Creek Trailhead 1N5
Northwest Section - Moderate to Heavy Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult - Out-and-back or overnighter
Distance: 7.4 mi/11.9 km round-trip
Elevation Loss/Gain: 1,086 ft.
Best time to visit: May-Novemtber

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 7 sites - 1A1, 1Y4, 1Y5, 1Y6, 1Y7, 1Y8, 1Y9
Click here to view a list of the backcountry campsites for this area.

Full Description: Read the full description or view photos of this hike.
Trail Maps: Beartooth Publishing - Yellowstone National Park

Finding the Trailhead - Blacktail Creek (1N5)
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
Drive approximately 6.7 miles east along the Grand Loop Road toward Tower Junction. The trailhead will be on the left just past Blacktail Pond. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

NOTE - Backcountry camping permits for this hike can be obtained at the Albright Visitor Center (at Mammoth Hot Springs). Open daily, year-round. Hours vary depending on the time of year - (307) 344-2263.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.





Blacktail Creek Trailhead Location
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Blacktail Creek Trail Overview Map
Blacktail Creek Trail Stats


Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Total Mileage: 7.4 mi /11.9 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Wow Factor: A beautiful hike to the Yellowstone River
Elevation Loss/Gain: 1,086 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Mammoth Hot Springs
6.7 miles west of Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions
Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.955369
Longitude: -110.593668

Yellowstone R. Coordinates
Latitude: 44.996683
Longitude: -110.578857

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 6,622 ft.
Yellowstone R. Elevation = 5,536 ft.
Elevation Gain = 1,086 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Yellowstone Backcountry Trip Planner
Blacktail Creek Photo Gallery
Blacktail Creek Trail Description

Blacktail Deer Creek Trail Description (Trailhead 1N5) - Moderate to Heavy Traffic

This is a wonderful place to spend a night or two camped along a magnificent stretch of the Yellowstone River. Pack the fly rod and spend your days fishing for trout on one of America's last undammed rivers.

The Blacktail Deer Creek Trail is a popular hike that provides access to the Yellowstone River and an area known as the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. There are several outstanding campsites located along the Yellowstone River and all are within 5.0 miles of the Blacktail Creek Trailhead. The Blacktail Deer Creek Trail drops 1,000 ft. in elevation before reaching the river so keep that in mind if you plan to do this trip as a day hike.

From the parking lot the trail crosses a beautiful valley, passing a series of small ponds before reaching the Blacktail Pond Trail which enters from the left at 0.4 miles. Soon after the trail climbs a small hillside where it reaches the highest point of the trail. From this vantage point the scenery unfolds to reveal a gentle landscape covered in low grasses and sagebrush that descends toward the Yellowstone River to the north. As you begin your descent from this overlook the Rescue Creek Trail enters from the left at 0.7 miles (see optional hike below).

From the Rescue Creek Trail junction the hike continues north and begins descending gradually toward the first backcountry campsite, 1A1 (★★★). The spur trail for this site enters from the right at 1.8 miles and descends a steep hillside before reaching the camping area. Site 1A1 is located in a stand of thick conifer trees adjacent to Blacktail Deer Creek. The views from the campsite are somewhat limited because of its location but it is still a very nice place to spend the night and its distance from the trailhead makes this an easy overnighter.

At 2.0 miles the trail turns sharply to the right and descends a small hill before rejoining Blacktail Deer Creek. Here the terrain flattens briefly as you skirt the western edge of this small stream. At 2.8 miles the trail passes near an overlook where a small waterfall drops through an area of hexagonal columns of basalt known as "fence posts." Significant eruptions of basalt lava formed these tall columns, and as the rock began to cool it shrank. The stress on the rocks caused "jointing" which in turn created these very distinct vertical hexagonal shapes.

At 3.3 miles the trail enters a deep ravine that once again parallels Blacktail Creek. The trail descends at a very steep grade until it reaches the Yellowstone River bottom at mile 3.7. Just before the large suspension bridge you'll see the trail for campsites 1Y6 and 1Y8 (★★★★★) which heads off to the right. These two backcountry campsites were our destination for this trip. Blacktail Bridge crosses the Yellowstone River and provides access to campsites 1Y4, 1Y5, 1Y7 and 1Y9 which are located on the opposite side of the river.

The trail to campsites 1Y6 and 1Y8 is about 0.8 miles in length and passes the Blacktail Patrol Cabin. Both campsites are located on a bench just above the Yellowstone River which makes them the perfect destination for anyone interested in an overnight fly fishing excursion.

NOTE: Unfortunately there are no wood fires allowed at any of the campsites along the Yellowstone River so you'll have to save the marshmallows for another trip.

OPTIONAL HIKES
Rescue Creek Trail
From the Blacktail Creek Trail you can reach the eastern end of Rescue Creek in 0.7 miles. This is another beautiful hike that provides access to a nice backcountry campsite that is only a few miles from the trailhead. This section of the Rescue Creek Trail is relatively flat and provides plenty of opportunities to observe bison, elk and other wildlife that frequent the area.

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone - 2-3 Days
For a beautiful multi-day backpacking trip you can combine the Blacktail Deer Creek Trail and the Yellowstone River Trail for a nice 2-3 day backcountry outing, following the Yellowstone River Trail east to the Hellroaring Trailhead or vise versa. This trip is best done as point-2-point hike and would require two vehicles or a shuttle. Click here for details on the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Trail.



Click here to download your FREE Yellowstone Backcountry Trip Planner - Contains backcountry campsite information, backcountry permit information, park service phone numbers, bear management information and hiking/backpacking checklists.

WARNING: YOU MUST BE WELL PREPARED and carry the necessary equipment to make your hike a safe one. You are responsible for your own well-being while trekking in these remote wilderness locations. Help or rescue can be hours or even days away.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.







Nearby Hiking Trails
Tower Junction/Garnet Hill Loop (Trailhead 2K2) - An easy 8 mile loop with plenty of great scenery.
Specimen Ridge (Trailhead 2K4) - A long open ridge that tops out on Amethyst Mountain (9,614 ft.).
Slough Creek (Trailhead 2K5) - A premier destination for hiking, backpacking and fly fishing.
Agate Creek (Trailhead 2K7) - Climbs to a beautiful open ridge before descending steeply to the Yellowstone River. Great fishing.
Buffalo Plateau (Trailhead 2K8) - A long hike that climbs to the northern border of the park and the spacious Buffalo Plateau.
Hellroaring (Trailhead 2K8) - Provides access to the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, Buffalo Plateau, Coyote Creek and Garnet Hill Trails.
Lost Lake (Located behind Tower/Roosevelt Lodge) - An easy day hike to a beautiful waterfall, Lost Lake and a petrified tree.



Nearby Campgrounds
Tower Fall Campground - Tower Fall Campground is located approximately 13.8 miles east of the Blacktail Trailhead and has 32 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted. A general store and gas station (seasonal) are located near Tower Fall and Tower Junction - Get Directions from the Blacktail Trailhead to the Tower Fall Campground.

Mammoth Campground - Open Year-round - Mammoth Campground is located approximately 7.4 miles east of the Blacktail Trailhead and has 85 sites that are mostly pull-through. Campground has flush-toilets. Campsites are $20.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are permitted from 8 am - 8 pm. A gas station, general store, restaurants, a hotel and visitor center are located nearby at Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions from the Blacktail Trailhead to the Mammoth Campground.



Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits for this hike can be obtained at the Albright Visitor Center (at Mammoth Hot Springs). Open daily, year-round. Hours vary depending on the time of year - (307) 344-2263. Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Post Hike Meals
The following restaurants are located in Mammoth and Gardiner.

The Corral Drive-In - Located in Gardiner (Awesome burgers) - Directions
K Bar & Cafe - Pizza and beer. 202 Main Street in Gardiner - Directions
Outlaws Pizza - You guessed it...Pizza. Located on Scott Street in Gardiner - Directions
Terrace Grill - Located in Mammoth and run by the park's concessionaire. Typical fast food.

Maps for Hiking Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Trail
Beartooth Publishing Outdoor Recreational Maps
The following map from Beartooth Publishing covers all of the hiking trails located in Yellowstone National Park. For more information about these maps click here.






Directions to the Blacktail Creek Trailhead

Click the map to launch directions
from Mammoth Hot Springs to the
Blacktail Creek Trailhead.



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