OverviewBecause of Yellow Peak’s central location and an abundance of nearby trails (having varying maintenance levels), there are many possible approach options. Yellow Peak is probably best climbed as part of a multi-day backpacking trip, but if that isn’t your cup of tea, then an “out and back” from the Middle Fork of Little Timber Creek trailhead is probably the best bet. The route follows a trail most of the way, with on the last mile or so going cross-country. An approach from this direction provides easy access to both the north and west ridges, which are each Class 2 in difficulty. Utilizing the north ridge is the shorter distance option and is a more enjoyable because of the excellent views. As you climb, Yellow Peak’s steep northeast side is your face most of the way up.
From Leadore, turn west from the center of town on Lee Creek Road. After 0.8 miles, turn left on Timber Creek Road. The road starts out as paved, but changes to a gravel road after a couple miles. Once on Timber Creek Road, follow the “road most traveled” through a couple forks, following signs for Stone Reservoir and/or Timber Creek Reservoir. (These two names seem to be used interchangeably for the lake below the trailhead.) At just over 10 miles form Leadore, you'll see the reservoir. Continue on the road that rises above the reservoir to the south and continue to the end of the line where the road meets the Middle Fork of Little Timber Creek. Its just over 11 miles from Leadore to get to this point
A passenger car might be able to make it to the trailhead, but only if you are comfortable subjecting it to pretty rugged conditions. High clearance is recommended, but four-wheel drive isn't necessary during the summer months for experienced dirt road drivers. (Information current as of July 2006, but road conditions can change quickly with a big thunderstorm passing through.)
Route DescriptionOnce at the trailhead, the trail crosses the creek and stays on the north side for just over 2.5 miles. No danger of losing you way here since its well worn due to being open to motorcycles and ATV's. (The trail is in very good shape in spite of this, and probably sees limited motorized travel because the remoteness of the area). The main trail makes the stream crossing at 2.5 miles, then continues up to a pass at the head of the Park Fork of Big Creek and a four-way trail intersection which is not shown on the USGS map. Yellow Peak comes into view from this intersection, and the north ridge route is in plain sight. From the intersection, turn left (south) towards Rocky Creek and Big Timber Creek. Within a quarter mile or so, the trail from Rocky Creek meets up with your trail. Turn right for about another quarter mile then look for a suitable route through the trees and up Yellow Peak’s north side. (If you prefer, continue on the trail as it contours around to Yellow Pass, the low point on the west ridge. There are some nice lakes just south of the pass.)
Wherever you leave the trail, there are a few trees to contend with for the first two or three hundred yards, but the terrain opens up after that. The rock is generally stable all the way up, and several goat trails are available to make for easier travel. Continue up the Class 2 ridge to the summit. It is a one-way distance of about 5.7 miles and 3300 feet of gain from the Middle Fork Little Timber Creek trailhead to the summit of Yellow Peak.
For some variety on the return, consider descending the west ridge then follow the trail back to where you left it to climb the north ridge. This makes a bit of a loop out of the hike.