Sportsman Lake Trail

Page Type
Montana, United States, North America
Route Type:
Trail Hike, Scrambling
Time Required:
One to two days
Mostly Class 1, Class 3 Near Summit

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Created On: Mar 20, 2005
Last Edited On: Jun 28, 2005


The Sportsman Lake Trail begins from the Glen Creek Trailhead, near Mammoth Hot Springs in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park. To reach the trailhead drive 4.7 miles south of Mammoth, just beyond the Golden Gate (Kingman Pass). If approaching from the south the trailhead is located 16.4 miles north of Norris Junction.

Backcountry Campsites

There are two backcountry campsites in the vicinity of Electric Peak which are well situated for a multi-day climb. These are designated as 1G3 and 1G4. Both sites are located a short distance to the east of the Gardner River. Electric Peak is a popular destination, therefore it is strongly recommended that one of these backcountry campsites be reserved in advance. It is highly unlikely that either of these campsites will be available to walk-in permit seekers

Refer to the main page "Red Tape" section for additional details and information on backcountry camping in Yellowstone.


Complete Hike
Round Trip Hiking Distance: 19.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,699 ft.
Trailhead Elevation: 7,270 ft.
Summit Elevation: 10,969 ft.

Electric Peak Spur Trail (from Sportsman Lake Trail)
Round Trip Hiking Distance: 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,969 ft.
Starting Elevation: 8,000 ft.
Summit Elevation: 10,969 ft.

Route Description

From the trailhead parking area the trail begins as a double-wide path heading west for approximately 0.25 miles to a fork. The right fork heads north to Mammoth Hot Springs; take the left fork which continues northwest as a double-wide trail through the flat and open sagebrush of Gardners Hole, paralleling the east side of Glen Creek on the left. On the right are the west-facing slopes of Terrace Mountain, el. 8006 ft. The double-wide trail is actually the remnants of an old stagecoach road which was used to bypass Kingman Pass before construction of the Golden Gate section of road.

Approximately 2 miles from the trailhead pass a fork on the left (Fawn Pass Trail), marked by a sign, then 0.25 miles further pass another fork on the right (Snow Pass Trail). Just beyond these two forks the trail enters a forested area as it begins a gradual climb.

At approximately 3 miles from the trailhead pass yet another fork on the right (Sepulcher Mountain Trail). The trail then begins heading in a generally westward direction as it continues to parallel the north bank of Glen Creek on the left.

Two miles beyond the Sepulcher Mountain Trail junction (±5 miles from the trailhead) a spur trail on the right (north) can be followed for 0.75 miles to Cache Lake. This is a worthwhile side trip which offers a very scenic view of Cache Lake with the summit of Electric Peak as the backdrop, however, camping is not permitted at the lake.

From the Cache Lake spur trail junction, continue along the Sportsman Lake trail for another ±1.0 mile to the junction with the Electric Peak spur trail on the right (north). If Electric Peak is being climbed as a multi-day trip, the two backcountry campsites typically used are 1G3 and 1G4, both located a short distance (±0.25 miles) beyond the Electric Peak spur trail and just after crossing the Gardiner River.

The Electric Peak Spur Trail leaves the main trail and follows the north bank of the Gardiner River for ±0.75 miles. This portion of the trail is generally well defined and easy to follow, although it occasionally fades as it crosses several small meadows.

Soon after the trail begins to climb much more steeply as it rises above timberline and begins ascending the southeast ridge of Electric Peak. Here the terrain becomes rocky and the trail fades as it becomes a faint hiker's trail before finally disapearing altogether.

Continue following the rocky talus ridge following the path of least resistance. The upper half of the ridge contains a series of small cliff bands, which can be bypassed with careful routefinding by ascending several steep chutes. Although the scrambling is generally no more than easy class 3, there is much loose rock and talus, so extra caution is in order. If the route becomes exceedingly difficult back off and look for an easier way, which can usually be found with a little routefinding.

From the summit are excellent views of most of the northwest portion of Yellowstone Park, including the Gallatin Range extending south to Mount Holmes, and Montana's Absaroka Mountains to the northeast. On a clear day the Tetons are also visible in the distance.

Stay and enjoy the view but allow plenty of time for the descent, and keep an eye on the sky for signs of threatening weather - don't forget the origins of the peak's name.

Sportsman Lake Trail

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