Hiking Fawn Pass, Yellowstone
Fawn Pass, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #13, Fawn Pass Trail - East Side
Glen Creek Trailhead 1K3
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, overnighter or point-2-point
Distance: 21.2 mi/34.1 km round-trip to the Fawn Pass Patrol Cabin
Elevation Gain: 1,445 ft.
Best time to visit: July-October (Fawn Pass may be snow-covered until July)

Backcountry Camping: Yes - 4 sites - 1G2, 1G5, 1F1 & 1F2
Click here to view a list of backcountry campsites for this area.

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

Finding the Trailhead - Glen Creek (1K3)
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
From Mammoth Hot Springs drive south on US-89 approximately 4.8 miles towards Norris Junction. The trailhead is on the left as you exit Golden Gate Canyon. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

NOTE - Backcountry camping permits for this area 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.





Fawn Pass Trailhead Location
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Fawn Pass Trail East Overview Map
Fawn Pass Topo Map
Fawn Pass Trail Stats


Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well marked
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Total Mileage: 21.2 mi /34.1 km round-trip to patrol cabin
Type of Hike: Out-and-back, or point-2-point or overnighter
Wow Factor: Beautiful mountain scenery
Elevation Gain: 1,445 ft.

Nearest Town: Mammoth Hot Springs
4.8 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.932329
Longitude: -110.728111

Cabin Coordinates
Latitude: 44.928714
Longitude: -110.888379

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 7,286 ft.
Cabin Elevation = 8,730 ft.
Elevation Gain = 1,445 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info


Fawn Pass Photo Gallery
Fawn Pass - East - Trail Description

Fawn Pass Trail Description - East Side - (Trailhead 1K3) Moderate to Heavy Traffic

The Fawn Pass Trail provides day hikers and backpackers with some classic Yellowstone scenery. The high peaks of the Gallatin Range frame the skyline and open valleys filled with colorful wildflowers, sagebrush and bison stretch as far as the eye can see.

As you leave the parking lot at the Glen Creek Trailhead you'll be heading northwest along a well worn double track that faces the massive pyramid shaped summit of Electric Peak. This is the tallest mountain in the Gallatin Range at 10,969 ft. and was first climbed in 1872 by members of the United States Geological Survey. The peak was given its name during their first ascent when a bolt of lightning struck the summit and the team experienced electrical discharges from their hands and hair. Electric Peak can be done as a long day hike or as an overnight trip if you stay at campsites 1G3 or 1G4 which are located on the Sportsman Lake Trail.

Over the next 2.0 miles the Fawn Pass Trail crosses the beautiful sage filled valley known as Gardners Hole. As you hike along this open terrain the bare summits of a handful of high peaks in the Gallatin Range stand out prominently against the skyline to the southwest. The long slope of Quadrant Mountain rises gently to almost 10,000 ft. The rounded summits of Antler Peak, Dome Mountain and Mount Holmes extend to the south. To the east the sage covered slopes of Terrace Mountain descend to meet the trail. During the winter this 2.0 mile section of the Fawn Pass Trail is also used by cross-country skiers and snowshoers that ascend via the Snow Pass Trail. Trail markers are spaced regularly along this route to help travelers find the trail during the winter months.

Bison are a common sight in Gardners Hole along with wolves, bears and other wildlife. On a trip through this area a few years ago we were surprised to see a group of bighorn sheep descend from Terrace Mountain and cross this wide valley. It only took them a few minutes to reach the hillsides across the valley. At times they would leap in unison across small streams that run through the valley. It was another spectacular Yellowstone moment.

At mile 2.0 the trail reaches the junction with the Sportsman Lake and Snow Pass Trails. The Fawn Pass Trail continues left (west) over flat terrain before tackling the first of two minor climbs. After the first small hill the trail levels briefly and then crosses a small stream. After an easy ford of this tiny creek the trail climbs steeply for about a half mile to a beautiful overlook that has magnificent views extending southeast toward the trailhead and southwest along the Gallatin Range. From this exposed ridge the trail descends toward the first of four campsites located in this region. White-crowned sparrows could be seen darting between the sagebrush and wild geraniums seemed even brighter against the spring grasses.

At mile 4.1 the trail reaches the junction with campsite 1G5 (★★★★★). This "stock only" campsite is absolutely gorgeous with views up and down this long valley. Electric Peak towers over the landscape to the north and the rounded summits of Antler, Dome and Holmes are visible to the south. Site 1G5 is situated at the edge of a pine forest along the northeastern border of this beautiful valley.

Continuing on past campsite 1G5 the trail flattens before reaching the junction with campsite 1G2 (★★★★) at 4.3 miles. Compared to 1G5 this campsite is heavily wooded and does not offer any views when you're in camp. Regardless, it's still a very nice site with easy access to the Gardner River which parallels the western edge of the camping area. If you want a really great view of the area, hike the steep hillside to the north of this campsite and you'll get a unique perspective of the valley below as well as the summit of Electric Peak.

After passing campsite 1G2 you'll immediately ford the Gardner River. This is the first of a handful of minor stream crossings that take place over the next few miles. In July the Gardner River is not very wide or deep here but it is still very cold and by the time you reach the opposite bank your feet will be grateful it's not any wider. NOTE: In the spring the Gardner River can be difficult to ford at this location.

After fording the Gardner River the trail enters the valley where sagebrush and willow take over the landscape once again. At 5.0 miles the trail crosses a narrow section of Fawn Creek for the first time. This is an easy ford across this tributary of the Gardner River which begins near the top of Fawn Pass. Shortly after the Fawn Creek ford you'll come to the third backcountry campsite in this area, 1F1 (★★★★★). This site is another "stock only" site that has a beautiful view of this flat valley as it extends to the south. Unfortunately 1F1 does not have a direct view of Electric Peak but a short walk south from the campsite will give you a great view of this rust colored peak.

From site 1F1 the trail climbs gently toward the fourth and final campsite along the Fawn Pass Trail. Campsite 1F2 (★★★) is located 5.6 miles from the Glen Creek Trailhead and can be found just off the main trail in a heavily wooded stand of tall pines. Fawn Creek runs behind the campsite and just to the south a large meadow and pond extend below the lower half of Quadrant Mountain. Campsite 1F2 also straddles the eastern end of the Gallatin Bear Management Area which extends to the top of Fawn Pass and beyond. Off-trail travel is not permitted in this area between May 1st and November 10th.

Continuing to Fawn Pass
After site 1F2 the trail continues climbing at an easy grade for another half mile before descending to meet Fawn Creek. A large meadow borders this small stream and if you look to the northeast you'll have a great view toward the southern slopes of Sepulcher Mountain. The Fawn Pass Trail is now heading southwest along Fawn Creek. At mile 6.7 you'll ford Fawn Creek for the second and last time as the trail crosses to the north side of the stream. From this point it's a relatively easy but constant grade all the way to the Fawn Pass patrol cabin. The scenery for the next 5 miles consists of thick pine forests that are occasionally interrupted by lush meadows offering views up and down this beautiful drainage. This is also the perfect habitat for grizzly bears and if you're lucky you may spot one grazing along the open hillsides that border the trail.

At mile 8.0 there is one final stream crossing that is just wide enough to require a ford. From this location the trail gets a bit steeper but it still maintains a relatively easy grade. The trail moves away from the creek and continues climbing through intermittent patches of pine forests and large meadows. At approximately 9.0 miles you enter a section of forest burned by a fire but the burn only lasts for about a mile. As you gain elevation the views really open up to the south and the profile of Bannock Peak (10,323 ft.) can be seen on the distant horizon.

At 10.8 miles the junction for the Fawn Pass patrol cabin is just visible to the left. This spur trail descends steeply for about a tenth of a mile before crossing a small creek behind the cabin. Both the outhouse and the patrol cabin looked a bit worse for wear but I image this alpine environment takes its toll on anything man-made, and when these structures are not in use they feel even more uninviting. Rusty tools and the antlers from a moose hung haphazardly around the front of the cabin and firewood was stacked about three feet high under the small A-framed porch. The metal door leading into the cabin had a single padlock to keep out unwanted guests, which probably means bears, and it looked as though it belonged on a meat locker rather than a cabin in the Yellowstone backcountry. If there had been a grand view from the porch of the cabin it may have been a bit more appealing but all in all it wasn't a bad place to stop and have lunch.

Over the last mile to Fawn Pass the trail grows a little steeper but it's still not a terribly difficult climb. As you near the top of the pass the trail drops into a large depression that contains a small lake. To reach the pass you'll skirt the lake and follow the trail up one last hill where a crooked and inconspicuous metal sign marks the high point (9,120 ft.) of this gently rolling mountain pass. From this grassy spot you'll have a wonderful view of Gray Peak which dominates the view to the northeast. The gentle slopes that surround Fawn Pass are home to the grizzly bear and elk and you may spot them foraging these hillsides during the short summer months when the pass is free of snow.

NOTE: The Fawn Pass Trail runs east to west across the Gallatin Range. The trail can be hiked as a point-2-point from either the Fawn Pass Trailhead (WK5) or the Glen Creek Trailhead (1K3). See the "Fawn Pass - West" trail description to connect these two incredible hikes.





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.








Nearby Hiking Trails
Sepulcher Mountain (Trailhead 1K3) - A nice out-and-back with stunning views of Electric Peak.
The Hoodoos (Trailhead 1K3) - A nice hike through interesting rock formations located high above Mammoth Hot Springs.
Electric Peak (Trailhead 1K3) - Climbs to the highest peak in the Gallatin Range at 10,969 ft.
Bunsen Peak (Trailhead 1K4) - A very popular summit with incredible views of the Gallatin Range and the Swan Lake Flat area.
Osprey Falls (Trailhead 1K4) - Descends into Sheepeater Canyon to the base of a 150' waterfall.
Indian Creek (Trailhead 1K5) - Heads west over scenic Bighorn Pass.
Mount Holmes (Trailhead 1K6) - A long day hike to a lookout tower located at the southern end of the Gallatin Range.
Grizzly Lake (Trailhead 1K8) - Offers access to both Mount Holmes and Trilobite Lake.



Nearby Campgrounds
Mammoth Campground - Open Year-round - Mammoth Campground is located approximately 5.6 miles north of the Glen Creek Trailhead and has 85 that are mostly pull-through. Campground has flush-toilets. Campsites are $20.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm. A gas station, general store, restaurants, a hotel and visitor center are located nearby at Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions from the Glen Creek Trailhead to the Mammoth Campground.

Indian Creek Campground - Indian Creek Campground is located approximately 4 miles south of the Glen Creek Trailhead and has 75 primitive sites (no RV hook ups). Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted - Get Directions from the Glen Creek Trailhead to the Indian Creek Campground.



Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits for this area 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
Visit the following restaurants in Mammoth or Gardiner after a day of backcountry hiking.

The Corral Drive-In - Located in Gardiner (Awesome burgers) - Get Directions
K Bar & Cafe - Pizza and beer. 202 Main Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Outlaws Pizza - You guessed it...Pizza. Located on Scott Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Terrace Grill - Fast food. Located in Mammoth (This will do in a pinch. Frankly, anything tastes good after a long day of hiking).

Maps for Hiking Fawn Pass
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 Glen Creek Trailhead

Click the Map to Launch Directions
From Mammoth to the Glen Creek Trailhead.



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