Garnet Hill Loop Trailhead - Yellowstone National Park
This is a loop trail of 7.7 miles with an elevation gain of around 600 feet. You begin your hike across the road from the trail marker by walking the eastern edge of the sagebrush-filled Pleasant Valley. Often throughout the season this is a common gathering place for bison, elk, and pronghorn. As with other areas in the northern part of the park, this area contains large boulders, known as glacial erratics, transported here by glaciers to the east.
At the .5-mile mark the trail splits (we recommend taking the trail to the right), and heads north as it climbs a few small hills. Soon you will be able to see the confluence of the Yellowstone and Lamar Rivers to the east. There are several prime fishing locations along the river for most of this trail and are easily accessible with a short hike down to the river. Large cutthroat trout are the main prize for those who fish this stretch of river. Over the next 1.5 miles you traverse rolling sagebrush covered hills. To the north you can see the majestic Absaroka Beartooth Mountains before beginning a short descent through a small grove of pine trees at the 2.5-mile mark, arriving at a small and secluded valley nestled at the edge of Garnett Hill and flanked by bends of the Yellowstone River.
Leaving the quaint little valley, the trail passes by steep banks on the Yellowstone River on one side, and the rocky slopes of Garnett Hill on the other side. At 3.5 miles into your hike the trail begins to climb as you head around the north end of Garnett Hill where the Yellowstone River rushes through a narrowed canyon before it turns and heads west and is soon out of sight. Now heading south, the trail will soon junction with the Hellroaring trail at the 4.4-mile mark and start a steady upward climb as it follows Elk Creek toward Pleasant Valley. For the next 1.5 miles the trail has more shade from trees, and alders line the creek often blocking its view as it parallels the trail. As the trail enters the north end of Pleasant Valley at the 5.8-mile mark it crosses Elk Creek on a footbridge.
The northern end of Pleasant Valley is where John Yancey opened the first hotel in this area of the park in 1884. While the original structure of the hotel no longer remans (it burned down in 1906), a difficult to find corner stone can be seen in the ground northwest of where the wooden structures of the Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout now stand. From here the trail leads you eastward back along the northern edge of Pleasant Valley and returns you to the first part of the trail where it splits, and then back to the trailhead.