August 3, 2008

Jefferson Park

We’d been planning all week to go riding up the Yellowstone drainage, but since that never worked out, we drove up there and took a hike. Horrors! I’m so used to riding my Mischief, I’m out of shape for actual walking. However, I suppose it was good for me.
Soon after crossing the Yellowstone River, we turned right onto a steep, windy rocky road that leads to Burnt Mill Spring and 77 Flat. We passed those and turned left at Dry Gulch Creek. That road is even narrower and rockier. We continued until the road ended, then began a hike up to Jefferson Park. Finding the trail was difficult, especially because we had 2 routes in our GPS’s, Jefferson Park and Jackson Park, and we thought we were going to Jackson Park when in fact we had the wrong President. Uh-oh. This really confused the GPS directions for awhile, until we finally figured out our mistake.
Once we found the trail, it was easy to follow. We came across a few dozen cows grazing in meadows not far from the road. Daisy wanted to chase them, of course, but she came back pretty well when Steve called.
The section along Dry Gulch Creek was a cool and pleasant walk through the aspen and spruce, mostly on alluvial soil. The wildflowers were not abundant. Lupine had already formed seed pods. We did see some blooming yarrow, Indian paintbrush, sticky geranium, and purple asters and shrubby cinquefoil.
Daisy jumped in and out of the creek at will, having a wonderful time as usual. While stopped for a water break, we noticed a cluster of butterflies on the ground. Steve snuck over to take a photo. As it turned out, the butterflies were parked on coyote turdules. Who would have thunk it? You’d expect butterflies to have more class.
When we crossed the creek and started climbing, the trail became much rockier, but still easy to follow. Fortunately, the sun was behind the clouds for much of our walk, cooling off the temperature, probably below 70 for most of the walk.
After gaining about 1800 feet, we reached an altitude of 10,300 and the beginnings of Jefferson Park. The area is tundra-like with stunted paintbrush and other wildflowers, and not much grass. The view of mountain peaks is great from there.
Our pace was much faster on the way down. We noticed a sink about halfway down the mountain, and saw a big beaver hut and a series of beaver ponds along the lower part of the creek, in the last couple of miles before we reached our truck.
The total hike was about 8.5 miles, enough to wear me out. We know a lot more about the area now, so when we bring the horses up we’ll know where to park the trailer, where we might camp, and what kind of terrain to expect.


  1. The pictures from this hike actually look a lot like the pictures from our hike yesterday to silver lake. Lots of aspens, greenery, water. We did see a lot of flowers though, so i wonder if ours was at higher elevation. we ended at about 10K feet. I'm sorry that you had to discover the truth about butterflies not always having class.

  2. We hiked up to Leidy Peak and saw some nice flowers as well. There is a little bit of snow left on the rocks but the ground was quite dry. It was a lot cooler up there, a good way to beat the heat.



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