The Mount Holmes Trail begins from the Norris-Mammoth Hot Springs Road, in the northwest region of the park. To reach the trailhead drive ±11.5 miles south from Mammoth Hot Springs, just south of the Apollinaris Spring Picnic Area. If approaching from the south the trailhead is located ±9.5 miles north of Norris Junction, 1.2 miles north of Obsidian Cliff.
The trailhead and a small parking area are located along the west side of the road.
There are two backcountry campsites in the vicinity of Mount Holmes which are well situated for a multi-day climb. These are designated as 1C4
. 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: 10.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,981 ft.
Trailhead Elevation: 7,355 ft.
Summit Elevation: 10,336 ft.
Average Gain per Mile: 276 ft.
Heading west from the trailhead the Mount Holmes Trail begins as an old dirt road before reducing to trail after approximately 1/4 mile. The trail turns northward and follows the edge of a large meadow on the east, along the base of a steep slope rising to the west.
The trail may become difficult to follow as it passes through several marshy areas, but keep heading in a generally northward direction and it should reappear soon.
Approximately one mile from the trailhead the trail arrives on the bank of Winter Creek. In mid to late summer it should be possible to cross this creek on rocks or fallen trees without getting wet. Early in the season it may be necessary to ford the creek - exercise caution if doing so.
Immediately after crossing Winter Creek the trail turns left and begins heading west as it parallels the north side of the creek. The trail makes a gradual turn southward until arriving at a fork ±2.5 miles from the trailhead, with the left fork heading south to Grizzly Lake.
At the Grizzly lake trail junction take right fork which continues 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 on the south. If Mount Holmes is being climbed as a multi-day trip, backcountry 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. Look for signs identifying the campsites.
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.