Friday, April 20, 2012

Yellowstone Trail - Hellroaring Creek

I’m coming off a very emotional ride from Yellowstone Heart Song’s two day free run on Amazon. What a thrill ride it was! Who knew that giving away thousands of copies of your book could be so exciting. 
Oh, and my husband promised a campfire cooking post for tomorrow!

Justin ready to go!
So, for today’s featured Yellowstone Trail I chose the Hellroaring Creek Trail, which was rather emotional for me for a bunch of other reasons. Now, I am not a backpacker. I probably barely qualify as a hiker. We hike our local hills here in southern California, and our neighborhood is pretty hilly, which keeps me in shape as I take the dog for his (almost) daily outings. If my husband had his way, we’d be backpacking (ie spending the night in a tiny tent that you schlepp on your back for miles and miles to a location without running water or a toilet) every weekend.  He can count his lucky stars that I do go hiking with him. I actually complain less about it than the kids do.
view of the Yellowstone River about halfway down the trail
For me, hiking is all about the scenery. To be properly motivated, the hike has to be in an area I like to be in. Yellowstone definitely qualifies for that, and I enjoy hiking there. The two things making my hikes less enjoyable for me are; I am terrified of bears, and of heights.
While choosing a trail from our trail book two summers ago, I came across one that sounded pretty neat. It’s called the Hellroaring Creek Trail. The total distance of this trail is about 4.0 miles, round trip to Hellroaring Creek, and the book lists the hike as moderate (the author of the book defines moderate as a hike for someone with some hiking experience and in average physical shape)
suspension bridge
Ok, so far so good. The neat thing I saw about the trail that I thought the kids would enjoy is the suspension bridge you have to cross over the Yellowstone River (remember I said I am afraid of heights). So, my mind zeroed in on the “suspension bridge” part of the trail description. I must have overlooked the part where it says “one mile of switchbacks” to get to the suspension bridge….
The trailhead is a bit hard to find. You might drive right past it if you’re not looking. It’s on the grand loop road about 4 miles past Tower Roosevelt if you’re heading west, or 14 miles east of  Mammoth Hot Springs, and you drive down a short service road.
The trail itself is beautiful (but, in June, it is swarming with hungry mosquitos, so you’d better bring the bug spray!)
The scenery is spectacular as you walk down (remember the switchbacks?) the very narrow trail through open timber and sagebrush meadow. My husband kept giving me the “are you sure you want to do this?” look several times, because the trail is very narrow, and very steep, and it’s a long way down. I was actually good to go, but as we kept walking, I saw an awful lot of hikers coming the other way heading back up, red-faced, sweaty, and breathing hard. What goes down, must come up. After a half mile, it was too late to say I wanted to turn around. I didn’t want to wimp out now, and have my kids make fun of me for the rest of the trip, so I kept my nagging worries to myself.
Yellowstone River from suspension bridge
By the time we got to the suspension bridge, we were all a bit winded (except my husband, of course). The boys had a great time goading mom into actually walking over the bridge. The Yellowstone River narrows in this particular spot, and is a roaring, raging rapid sort of river. Very beautiful to look at, but not standing directly overhead. Not for me anyways. Ok, yes, I did manage to get across the bridge, but it wasn’t easy. We saw lots of hoof prints, so this trail is also used as a stock trail, and I figured if a horse can cross, then so can I.
After a short rest on the other side of the Yellowstone, we decided to turn around. For starters, it was getting a bit late in the day, and my husband suddenly decided we didn’t bring enough water. Boy was he right! Did I mention that a mile going downhill is one thing, but heading back up is a whole ‘nother story! It’s more like five miles coming back up.
I think the whining by the boys started about a quarter mile up. I was in tears another quarter mile further. We went slow, and we did run out of water. Luckily I had a few piece of candy in my pocket to suck on to keep the mouth moist.
Going back up
Okay, so Hellroaring conquered me in 2010. In 2011, every time we drove past the trailhead, the boys would yell “hell no!” when my husband suggested we hike this trail again. They are in for a rude surprise. Mom’s been training this past year, with one goal in mind. I will conquer this trail in 2012, and be the first one back to the car. And this year, we’re actually going to hike all the way to Hellroaring Creek.


  1. Just finished reading Heart Song....loved it & looking forward to the rest!

    1. Teresa, thank you so much for your comment. Glad you liked the book. Let me know how you like the others.