The Grizzly Lake trail is a slightly longer variation to the standard Mount Holmes Trail route to the summit of Mount Holmes. The trail begins from the Norris-Mammoth Hot Springs Road, in the northwest region of the park. To reach the trailhead drive ±15.2 miles south from Mammoth Hot Springs. If approaching from the south the trailhead is located ±6.0 miles north of Norris Junction, just north of the Twin Lakes area.
The trailhead and a small parking area are located along the west side of the road.
The Grizzly Lake approach to Mount Holmes contains several options for backcountry camping. Campsites 1C1
are both located along Straight Creek, just to the north of Grizzly Lake. While either of these campsites are suitable for a multi-day climb of Mount Holmes, they both require a fairly long summit day.
Campsites closer to Mount Holmes are 1C4
, as described in the Mount Holmes Trail
Mount Holmes is a relatively popular Yellowstone hiking destination, therefore it is strongly recommended that one of these backcountry campsites be reserved in advance. It is unlikely that either of these campsites will be available to walk-in permit seekers
NOTE: Campsite 1C5 was closed during the 2004 season. The status of the campsite in 2005 is currently unknown.
Refer to the main page "Red Tape" section for additional details and information on backcountry camping in Yellowstone.
One-Way Hiking Distance: 12.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,956 ft.
Trailhead Elevation: 7,380 ft.
Summit Elevation: 10,336 ft.
Average Gain per Mile: 242 ft.
The Grizzly Lake trail leaves the trailhead and heads northwest across a meadow for 0.25 miles; this section of trail may be quite marshy early in the season. The trail then begins a series of short switchbacks as it climbs a steep southeast-facing slope.
At the top of this slope the trail continues for ±1.0 mile across a relatively flat plateau, passing through several small marshy meadow areas along the way. The plateau ends at the top of a steep slope of burned forest, at the bottom of which is Grizzly Lake, 300 feet below. At this point there is also a nice view of Mount Holmes to the west.
The trail descends the slope via another series of small switchbacks until arriving at the north shore of the lake. Here the trail climbs briefly to the west, then turns northward as it leaves Grizzly Lake and begins following Straight Creek.
If backcountry camping in the Grizzly Lake area, campsite 1C1
is located ±0.25 miles north of the lake, and campsite 1C2
is located ±1.0 miles north of the lake. Look for signs identifying the campsites.
Approximately 4.0 miles from the trailhead the trail reaches a junction with the Mount Holmes trail on the right. Take the left fork which heads southwest along Winter Creek for another ±3.0 miles to the Trilobite Lake trail junction, located near the Winter Creek patrol cabin and the west end of a large meadow to the south. For backcountry campers, campsite 1C4
is located 0.2 miles east (before) of the junction, and 1C5
is located 0.1 miles west (beyond) of the trail junction.
At the Trilobite Lake trail junction take the left fork which continues southwest along Winter Creek for another ±0.5 miles, then turns and begins steadily climbing to the west. The majority of elevation gain occurs on the final 4.5 miles to the summit.
The trail climbs westward as it makes a long traverse along the south slopes of Mount Holmes, until finally arriving at a saddle (el. 9,400 ft.) to the southwest of the summit. At the saddle the trail turns right and begins making a fairly steep traverse up the bare talus northwest face of the peak. After a large switchback the trail makes a final turn onto the northeast ridge and gradually levels off as it arrives at the rounded summit.
Water is plentiful for much of the hike; carry a suitable purification method.
Insect repellent is absolutely a must until late summer.