Garnet Hill Loop Trail is a 8.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Yellowstone National Park, WY that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from May until September.
This is a loop trail approximately 10 miles long, depending on the starting trailhead. The trail loops around Garnet Hill in Yellowstone Park, along Yellowstone River, and goes through a meadow near Tower Junction. Wildlife and beautiful scenery are the highlights of this moderate trail. The trail has two trailheads: (1) at the Hellroaring Trailhead just west of Floating Island Lake, and (2) at Tower Junction. The trail loops around Garnet Hill and meanders next to Yellowstone River. If one starts at the Hellroaring Trailhead, there is a significant 500-foot elevation gain near that trailhead. The elevation gain is about 400 feet if only using the Tower Junction Trailhead and is more gradual than the other. If one is moving counter-clockwise on the trail and is at Tower Junction, follow the road to Cooke City about 0.2 miles to find the other half of the trail. Conversely, if one is hiking clockwise on the trail and meets the road to Cooke City, walk south along the road toward the intersection to find the other half of the trail. The loop is abundant with wildlife and there are plenty of hikers too.
I started at the Hellroaring Trailhead with some friends and went down to the trail intersection at Garnet Hill and worked my way counter-clockwise along the loop. Near Tower Junction, we cut across the meadow to meet the other side of the trail instead of following the trail exactly. Along the trail we saw signs of black bear, coyote, wolf, and porcupine. We saw bison with their calves at a small lake or pond on the East side of Garnet Hill and walked around the trail to avoid confrontations. A couple pronghorn and a few mule deer ran past us too. We enjoyed hiking next to Elk Creek and Yellowstone River. The 500-foot elevation gain near the Hellroaring Trailhead was probably the most difficult part, but it was at the end. It was a beautiful day for a beautiful hike!