Hiking Mount Holmes
Mount Holmes, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #17, Mount Holmes Trail
Mount Holmes Trailhead 1K6
Northwest Section - Light Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

Campsites 1C1, 1C2, 1C4, 1C5 may be closed again in 2019 due to road construction. This closure may last until August 2019.

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Location: Northwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Difficult - Out-and-back
Distance: 21.2 mi/34.1 km round-trip
Elevation Gain: 2,986 ft.
Best time to visit: July-October (Mount Holmes can remain snow-covered until July)

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 4 sites - 1C1, 1C2, 1C4 & 1C5
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.
Topo Maps: Beartooth Publishing - Yellowstone National Park

See our gear list for this hike

Finding the Trailhead - Mount Holmes (1K6)
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
From Mammoth Hot Springs drive south on US-89 approximately 11.5 miles towards Norris Junction. The trailhead is on the right just past Apollinaris Spring. 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.

Mount Holmes Trailhead Location

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Mount Holmes Overview Map
Mount Holmes Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well marked
Difficulty: Difficult
Total Mileage: 21.2 mi /34.1 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back
Wow Factor: Spectacular views of the Gallatin Range
Elevation Gain: 2,986 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Mammoth Hot Springs
11.5 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.838256
Longitude: -110.732333

Summit Coordinates
Latitude: 44.818879
Longitude: -110.855479

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 7,350 ft.
Summit Elevation = 10,336 ft.
Elevation Gain = 2,986 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Mount Holmes Photo Gallery
Mount Holmes Trail Description

Mount Holmes Trail Description (1K6) Light Traffic

There has always been something alluring and incredibly rewarding about climbing a high mountain peak, and Mount Holmes is no exception. The summit rises to over 10,000 ft., towering above the sublime Yellowstone landscapes that stretch in every direction.

Option 1: A long day hike of 21.2 miles/ 34.1 km round-trip.
Option 2: A 2 or 3-day backpacking trip with a stay at campsite 1C4 or 1C5. Climbing Mount Holmes and/or hiking to Trilobite Lake.
Option 3: A shorter day hike or overnighter trip with a visit to Trilobite Lake (see map above).

From the small parking lot, the trail enters a stand of trees before quickly reaching the southern end of a large meadow paralleling the Grand Loop Road. The trail continues along the western edge of this beautiful open expanse as it turns north, climbing a few very small hills before it reaches the Winter Creek crossing at just over a mile. The Trans Line, which crisscrosses the park in a number of locations, emerges from the woods and follows the trail until you reach Winter Creek where it continues heading north toward Mammoth Hot Springs.

You'll need to ford Winter Creek if you're planning a day hike or an overnight stay at either campsite 1C4 ★★★ or 1C5 ★★★, both of which are located near the Trilobite Lake Trail junction. However, it's an easy stream to ford and by mid-June water levels should be manageable. A light pair of sandals and trekking poles will make stream crossings a little easier because of Winter Creek's rocky bottom that can be hard on bare feet. After reaching the opposite side of Winter Creek the terrain opens significantly as the trail swings back in a southerly direction. The bare summits of Mount Holmes and the White Peaks are often visible along the distant horizon. Much of this area is a patchwork of standing dead trees, new growth, sagebrush, and a few areas of mature trees that managed to escape the fires in this region.

At around 2.0 miles the trail begins climbing gently until you reach the junction with the Grizzly Lake Trail which enters from the right at 2.5 miles. From here you can look down on a very wide section of Straight Creek as it flows north from Grizzly Lake to join Winter Creek. Continuing past this trail junction you continue climbing gradually to an overlook where the trail bends to the right, skirting this low hillside before dropping steeply to meet Winter Creek at 3.2 miles. The trail follows this small stream for another 2.2 miles with very little gain in elevation. On a really hot day Winter Creek can provide some relief from the heat, especially on the return trip from the summit. The Mount Holmes Trail has very little shade and because of its length you'll be on the move for a good part of the day, and this little creek is the perfect oasis.

At 5.25 miles the trail reaches the northern end of a large meadow where campsites 1C4 ★★★ and 1C5 ★★★ are located. Campsite 1C4 is situated just off the trail in a large unburned stand of trees and offers plenty of shade and easy access to water. The trail to campsite 1C5 is located just past the junction with Trilobite Lake. Site 1C5 is located on the opposite side of the meadow to the east (left). Campsite 1C5 is very similar to 1C4, with tall pines surrounding both the tent and cooking areas. A small stream is located behind the campsite making it easy to collect water for cooking and drinking.

At 5.6 miles the trail crosses a narrow section of Winter Creek that is just wide enough to require another minor stream crossing. During this trip there were a handful of boards placed over a narrow spot along the creek, but don't rely on this temporary bridge to be there for very long. The boards are not permanently attached and with a good rain storm they will probably wash away. At this point you are about halfway to the summit and from here the trail begins gaining most of its elevation, with the steepest sections beginning at around mile 8.5.

After crossing Winter Creek the trail climbs briefly through new growth forest which eventually opens to a large sloping plateau flanking the lower half of the mountain. As the forest thins and the terrain opens along this broad hillside be on the lookout for grizzlies. These large mammals are often found foraging in these meadows and this is the perfect habitat for locating bears. At around 7.5 miles the ground becomes much wetter as small channels of water descend from the slopes to the north. This damp rocky soil is also the ideal habitat for a wide variety of wildflowers, including subalpine larkspur, mountain harebell, fringed gentian and the poisonous death camus (see the photo gallery to properly identify this harmful flower). There are an overwhelming number of wildflowers that exist throughout Yellowstone but death camus is one flower that's worth remembering because it is lethal if ingested.

As you move farther up this large open slope the rocky peaks of both Mount Holmes and the White Peaks become more prominent along the northern skyline. At 8.4 miles the trail steepens and moves through yet another area effected by wildfire. There is one last area of significant deadfall as the trail climbs to the saddle between the White Peaks and Mount Holmes at around 9,300 ft. From this location you'll have your first view north toward the rugged peaks of the Gallatin Range that run along the parks western boundary. Echo Peak, Three Rivers Peak and Antler Peak are visible as you ascend up the northwestern ridge to the summit.

Over the last mile the grade to the summit is still very gradual even though Mount Holmes tops out at an elevation of 10,336 ft. The spectacular alpine scenery will pull you along as the trail ascends high above the surrounding peaks. The steep northwestern slopes of Mount Holmes angle sharply toward the fire-scarred valleys below, as the trail cuts a distinct path up the side of the mountain. After reaching the final switchback the trail will be facing the small brown lookout tower perched high above Yellowstone. Once on top catch your breath, take out your camera and enjoy the view because it doesn't get any better this...well, sometimes it does, but for now just lose yourself in the moment and take in the views from another spectacular peak located high in the Yellowstone backcountry.

WARNING: The weather in Yellowstone can change rapidly at any time of the year. During the summer months afternoon thunderstorms are very common and there is no easy way off the summit of Mount Holmes if a storm moves in. Temperatures can drop significantly within minutes and at elevation the wind will almost always be a factor even on the nicest of days. Start your hike early and be off the mountain by mid afternoon.

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 to the top of peak that gives you a stunning view of Electric Peak.
Fawn Pass - East Side (Trailhead 1K3) - Plenty of mountain scenery with access to four beautiful backcountry campsites. Very popular.
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.
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 12 miles north of the Mount Holmes 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 Mount Holmes Trailhead to the Mammoth Campground.

Indian Creek Campground - Indian Creek Campground is located approximately 3 miles north of the Mount Holmes 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 Mount Holmes Trailhead to the Indian Creek Campground.

Norris Campground - Norris Campground is located approximately 8.5 miles south of the Mount Holmes Trailhead and has 100 sites. Campsites are $20.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm - Get Directions from the Mount Holmes Trailhead to the Norris 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.

Mount Holmes Hiking Equipment
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 Mount Holmes
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 Mount Holmes Trailhead

Click the Map to Launch Directions
From Mammoth to the Mount Holmes Trailhead.


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