Overview: Yellowstone National Park Pebble Creek to Slough Creek
Yellowstone's Northern Range is the hub of the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem! There is no better way to explore the varied environments located throughout the magical Northern Range than backpacking from Pebble Creek up and over Bliss Pass to Slough Creek.
Map: Pebble Creek, Bliss Pass, Slough Creek
Caltopo map available here.
Trail Guide: Pebble Creek to Slough Creek
This 3-day, ~ 24-mile backpacking adventure starts at the Pebble Creek Trailhead (3K2). The hike begins with a ford of Pebble Creek before mildly climbing through a lush pine forest. ~ 1.5 miles later and the day's climb is over, with views of the Northern Range serving as a treat.
~ 2 more miles of mostly flat intermittent forest and meadow hiking brings one to Camp 1 at Lower Pebble Creek (3P1). 3P1 is an idyllic top-tier campsite located along the banks of Pebble Creek.
The Northern Range is home to the most diverse and numerous collection of fauna in the park. We had the incredible good fortune of being visited in camp by a young male elk as day faded into night.
On Day 2 the hard work begins in earnest. The first ~ 3 miles start off flat, affording a chance to get the legs warmed up for what is to come. 3 crossings of Pebble Creek later and it is time to climb. Getting to the top of Bliss Pass takes ~ 1.5 miles and ~ 2000 vertical feet. We found the following ~ 5-mile ~ 3000 feet drop down from Bliss Pass to Slough Creek to be the most tiring part of the trek. Totally worth every step!
The final ~ mile of the day is an easy walk along the gravel road that makes up the Slough Creek Trail, also serving as the only access to the famed Silvertip Ranch right outside the Park boundary. Camp 2 at Elk Tongue (2S4) is another top-tier campsite with great views of the surrounding area.
Once again we were visited by the Northern Ranges's cornucopia of wildlife spotting a Bald Eagle, mouse, rabbit, otter, deer and porcupine from our site overlooking the creek.
Day 3 of this backpacking route is an easy, yet exceedingly beautiful, trek along Slough Creek. ~ 7 miles and (if lucky) a bunch of bison later the adventure finishes at Slough Creek Trailhead (2K5). This section is popular amongst both day hikers and anglers.