Hiking the Pebble Creek Trail
Pebble Creek Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #14, Pebble Creek Trail
Warm Creek Trailhead 3K4
Northeast Section - Light Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northeast Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Moderate - Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Distance: 10.8 mi/17.3 km round-trip
Elevation Gain: 1,017 ft.
Best time to visit: July-October

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 5 sites - 3P1, 3P2, 3P3, 3P4 & 3P5
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 - Warm Creek (3K4)
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
Drive approximately 45.1 miles east on route 212 towards the town of Cooke City, MT. The Warm Creek trailhead is located 8 miles past the Pebble Creek Campground along the NE Entrance Road. The trailhead will be on the left. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

From Cooke City: The Warm Creek trailhead is approximately 5.2 miles west of Cooke City on US 212 and 1.2 miles past the NE entrance station to Yellowstone.
Get Directions from Cooke City

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.

Pebble Creek Trailhead Location

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Pebble Creek Overview Map
Pebble Creek Topographic Map
Pebble Creek Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well marked
Difficulty: Moderate - Multiple stream crossings
Total Mileage: 10.8 mi /17.3 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Wow Factor: See photos
Elevation Gain: 1,017 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Mammoth & Cooke City, MT
45.1 miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions
5.2 miles west of Cooke City, MT - Get Directions
Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 45.004520
Longitude: -110.033349

Turnaround Coordinates
Latitude: 44.999236
Longitude: -110.107228

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 7,299 ft.
Turnaround Elevation = 7,778 ft.
Elevation Gain = 1,027 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Pebble Creek Photo Gallery
Pebble Creek Trail Description

Pebble Creek Trail Description (Warm Creek Trailhead 3K4) Light Traffic

Pebble Creek sits at the northeastern edge of Yellowstone and is surrounded by some of the park’s most rugged mountains, and with a little effort you'll have plenty of outstanding scenery.

The first mile of this hike is the crux as the trail climbs steeply along the wooded, south facing ridge. Most of the elevation (1,017 ft) for this hike is gained over this initial mile which begins climbing right from the trailhead. The tan and pink colored cliffs of Abiathar Peak can been seen directly south of the trailhead and like many of the mountains in this region of the park it rises to a height of nearly 11,000 ft.

Just past the half mile mark the trail crosses a large talus slope where you'll have spectacular views to the south and the east. At 1.0 mile the hike climbs a series of short switchbacks before topping out at 8,333 ft. This is the highest point along the trail and once again you'll have incredible views of the high peaks and steep cliffs that tower above Soda Butte Creek as it flows towards the Lamar Valley further to the south.

When we hiked this trail over the 4th of July weekend and there was significant snowpack covering the north side of the trail as it descends to Pebble Creek. The snow was still very solid which made traveling this downhill section to the creek very easy. After this brief descent of .75 miles the trail reaches the valley floor where the next 100 yards can be very wet and may require a short walk through ankle deep water. Keep your sandals on after this section because from here it's a very short walk to Pebble Creek where you'll cross this stream at 1.8 miles. After fording Pebble Creek you'll reach the first campsite 3P5 (★★★★) which is 2 miles from the trailhead making for an easy day hike or overnighter. The campsite has great views towards the park's northernmost boundary where Wolverine and Sunset Peaks can be seen at the very end of this large valley. Pebble Creek is located just behind this campsite. Click here to view the backcountry campsites located in this area.

For the next few miles you'll be treated to some incredible scenery as the trail makes its way through this high valley. Directly to the west the sharply defined cliffs of Cutoff Mountain provide an amazing backdrop for this section of the hike. The next mile to campsite 3P4 (★★★★★) is very flat and crosses a few small, dry creekbeds that descend from the slopes of the long ridge dominating the skyline to the north. At 2.6 miles the trail skirts the edge of a small stand of trees and it may remain wet here in the early spring all the way to the second stream crossing at 3.6 miles. This is another easy ford of Pebble Creek that requires minimal effort.

After crossing Pebble Creek for the second time the trail begins its slow descent towards the southern end of the valley. At 5.4 miles you reach the Bliss Pass trail and the turnaround point for this hike. There are two campsites located near this trail junction. Campsite 3P3 (★★★★) is a short distance off the main trail and sits on a hillside overlooking Pebble Creek. Campsite 3P2 (★★★) is another .03 miles south of the Bliss Pass junction and is much more secluded.

Alternate Hike (Requires a shuttle)
If you're looking for a nice point-2-point hike you can start at the Pebble Creek Trailhead (3K2) and walk this trail in the opposite direction (north) ending at the Warm Creek Trailhead (3K4). This is an 11.7 mile trip that requires fording Pebble Creek a total of 4 times. This makes for a nice day hike but I think the northern section of Pebble Creek is actually the most scenic.

Additional Information
The Pebble Creek trailhead is located about 45 miles from Mammoth Hot Springs between the Lamar Valley and the park's Northeast Entrance. There is plenty of parking at the trailhead and hiking traffic along this route is minimal. On the south side of the road not far from the trailhead is a beautiful picnic area that sits alongside Soda Butte Creek. The Bannock cross country ski trail is accessible from this location and follows Soda Butte Creek east for 2.5 miles to the town of Silver Gate. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs.

NOTE: We recommend carrying sandals or water-friendly footwear for this hike. It will be necessary to ford Pebble Creek in two locations during this trek. As an out and back you'll be required to ford this small stream a total of 4 times if you hike this trail to the junction with Bliss Pass. Both fords are easy to manage but the water can be numbingly cold early in the year. Generally the water is only ankle or calf deep at both of these stream crossings.

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
Specimen Ridge (Trailhead 2K4) - A long open ridge that tops out on Amethyst Mountain (9,614 ft.).
Slough Creek (Trailhead 2K5) - A premier backcountry destination for day hiking, backpacking, fly fishing.
Soda Butte (Trailhead 3K1) - Walk through the north end of the famed Lamar Valley. Connects with the Lamar River and Cache Creek Trails.
Trout Lake (Trailhead - Trout Lake) - A very easy and popular hike to a lake filled with, you guessed it, trout.
Thunderer (Trailhead 3K3) - Climbs to Chaw Pass and connects with the Cache Creek Trail. Provides access to The Thunderer peak.

Nearby Campgrounds
Pebble Creek Campground - Pebble Creek Campground is located approximately 8 miles west of the Warm Creek Trailhead on the NE Entrance Road and has 27 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are mot permitted - Get Directions from the Warm Creek Trailhead to the Pebble Creek Campground.

Slough Creek Campground - Slough Creek Campground is located approximately 23 miles from the Warm Creek Trailhead and has 23 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted. Located 2 miles off the NE Entrance Road - Get Directions from the Warm Creek Trailhead to the Slough Creek Campground.

Tower Fall Campground - Tower Fall Campground is located approximately 30 miles west of the Warm Creek 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 Warm Creek Trailhead to the Tower Fall Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits for this hike can be obtained at the Albright Visitor Center (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 Cooke City, Montana.

Beartooth Cafe - Located in Cooke City - 14 Main Street (Awesome sandwiches, burgers and steaks) - Get Directions

Maps for Hiking Pebble Creek
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 Pebble Creek Trailhead

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


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