Grizzly Lake - September 7, 2022


Dec 23, 2013
Well, it was that time of the year again for my hike a short distance into the backcountry, set up basecamp, and do a couple of day hikes from there. Normally this trip is with some cohorts who have backpacked with me over the years at one time or another. This time however, I decided to open up the trip to BCP members who might be interested. Our basecamp site was 1C2, which is located about one mile north of Grizzly Lake. The campsite allows for 10 people to camp there at one time, so this would allow for five more people to join our merry band on the trip.

@Pringles and @The Trout Whisperer were the first two people to take advantage of my invite, with @kwc and @TheMountainRabbit not too far behind. @Dreamer was last on board with only a couple of days left until trip began. So ten it is. Fantastic! In the past, the highest number of people in a group that I have backpacked with is six, so it will be fun to meet up with people who's trip reports I've read on this site, and get to know them a little bit personally.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the previous reports and pictures posted already from this trip. Thanks @Pringles, @kwc, and @Dreamer for your contributions. All of them were wonderful, and will probably do more justice to our trip than my write-up. :)

Day 1 - Mount Holmes Trailhead to Campsite 1C2 on Straight Creek - 3.5 miles

Before we arrive at the trailhead though, a little work needs to be done for earlier in the day.

A group of four of us left Salt Lake around 5:45 am on the 7th, with our first stop being Sills Cafe in Layton, Utah. Now Sills is a greasy spoon establishment that serves up one mean breakfast. I had a ham and cheese omelet, with hash browns and some whole wheat toast. Oh, and I can't forget the blackberry jam for the toast. Not a finer meal will get one ready for the Yellowstone backcountry in my estimation.

After finishing up at Sills, our next stop was West Yellowstone, where we hoped to pick up our official permit at the Visitors Center. Meeting us at the Visitors' Center were @kwc and @The Trout Whisperer, who I understood had hooked up earlier in the day at Old Faithful. We pulled into West Yellowstone around 11:30-ish and headed to the backcountry office to get our permit. Outside waiting for us were @kwc and @The Trout Whisperer, so everyone headed in to talk to the ranger about backpacking in Yellowstone.

Without too much trouble, we received our official permit, even without having to watch the backcountry safety video.

Pointing out campsite 1C2 to the uninitiated, with the official permit in hand. :)

Well, of course, a hearty breakfast isn't going to last the Scatman all day, so our next stop would be Ernie's in West Yellowstone for sandwiches.

Ernie's along the main drag as you enter town.

Full up once again, it was time to head on to the Mount Holmes Trailhead. At the west entrance gate I had to purchase a new parks pass due to mine expiring in August. From there, it was just a little over and hours drive to the trailhead, which was located between Norris and Mammoth.

The group gathers at the Mount Holmes Trailhead.

Meeting up with us at the trailhead was @Dreamer (he'd be the one leaning against the black Titan, chatting with kwc). I might mention at this point that @Pringles had already headed of to our campsite, and that @TheMountainRabbit would be meeting us later at our site. I think that we might have had a sprinkle or two while getting our gear all ready - someone may have to verify that for me though. Since I had to put my knee brace on before leaving, I was the last to hit the trail, and ended up being the last person to camp, excluding TheMountainRabbit of course.

So here is our story as best as I can remember it if you'd like to follow along.

The Mount Holmes Trailhead

The significance of this I am unsure. :thinking:

Electric Peak to the north

Along with Sepulcher Mountain in the distance

Hmmm............... Numbers on a telephone pole. What does it all mean? :) I am getting a sniff of the old Howard Eaton Trail though.

I'm a sucker for reds in the fall, even though technically, it was still summer.

Looking down on Winter Creek after the ford

More Winter Creek for you. The trail followed the north side of the creek until the junction with the trail that goes to Mount Holmes

Asters still blooming in September

That way to camp and to Grizzly Lake

Trail junction sign with camp being about 0.5 mile to the south

Another ford of Winter Creek before reaching our campsite

What I refer to as Straight Creek Pond is ahead, as is our campsite

Arrived at last

After arriving at camp, we all intoduced ourselves to Pringles and then set about setting up our tents in various locations. While setting up, TheMountainRabbit arrived at camp to complete the fellowship. :)

Looking north along Straight Creek from camp

And a southern view of Straight Creek too

Settling in at camp

Dinner time

Getting to know one another while eating

Day 2 - Day Hike around Grizzly Lake - 7.2 miles

I had always wondered about the south end of Grizzly Lake. Well today, I was going to have the opportunity to explore the whole lake, as a group of us were going to hike around the lake to see what we could see.

I think I should explain at this point that these basecamp trips in September allow each person to do as they please while in the backcountry. I was headed around Grizzly Lake for example, but others had other day hikes in mind, and some chose to just stay at camp to enjoy there wilderness experience, and that's okay. To each his/her own. :thumbsup:

A little birdie whispered in my ear that there was only a 20% chance of precipitation on this day. Unfortunately, prediction didn't come true. :)

My tent before heading off on our day hike around Grizzly Lake

A quick snapshot of @Pringles trap and hammock setup on our way to Grizzly Lake

Four brave men head out! :D

Uh-oh, there is more of that red color that lures me into picture taking

More almost fall colors

Elk skull on our way to the lake

Arriving at Grizzly Lake

Beginning the off-trail portion of our hike

Some downfall along the way

Steady. :)

Looking back towards the northern end of the lake

Pretty, though not sure what wildflower it is.

The southern end of the lake is visible

The Straight Creek inlet

Getting ready to ford the inlet

Fording the inlet. This was a very silty (deep) ford

Southern end of Grizzly Lake

At this point lightning and thunder rained down upon us. It began to pour rain, and I stopped to put my rain jacket on, and my camera away. With the lightning and thunder, this meadow/marsh crossing became tense. As we approached the southeast side of the lake, the marshiness intensified. Some seeps and springs formed a small creek that ran into the lake, this creek contained silt on the bottom of it that went past TheMountainRabbits hiking pole when he probed the bottom. For the next thirty minutes or so it just poured rain on us.

Time to get out of the open meadow

It felt like dusk as the dark clouds moved overhead

The southeast corner of Grizzly Lake

A wet kilt to say the least. :)

A beautiful orange to the shredded log

Heading up the east side of the lake as skies begin to clear

The north side of the lake is back within reach

The logjam at the outlet of Grizzly Lake

I just thought this looked neat

Back at camp

Dinner time at 1C2

Day 3 - Day Hike to the summit of Mount Holmes - 16 miles roundtrip

Woke up to fog on day three with a touch of frost on my tent fly. After eating a quick breakfast, it was time to attempt Mount Holmes. Ryan, @TheMountainRabbit and @Dreamer were willing to give it a go. I summited Mount Holmes nine years ago, and at the time the fire lookout was still intact. I understand that in the last couple of years a lightning strike burned the lookout down to its foundation. :( It will be interesting to see if I can make it to the top.

Foggy morning at 1C2

Cheerful around the campfire despite the fog

Looking back towards camp, on the first leg of the Mount Holmes hike

Winter Creek below. The trail essentially just follows the creek for most of the way.

More Winter Creek

At this point, Winter Creek heads underground

More dry Winter Creek

Beautiful meadow near campsite 1C4

Trilobite Point above. Mount Holmes is behind it to the west.

Trail junction with the Trilobite Lake Trail

Winter Creek Patrol Cabin, along with two scallywags. :D

After the patrol cabin, the trail begins to climb. This shot is looking back on the way we had come.

Trilobite Point

Unnamed Peak 8932 to the southwest

Some asters still blooming along the trail

First peek at White Peaks

White Peaks

The Mount Holmes Trail - we are heading for the saddle above, located between White Peaks and Mount Holmes

Ooh, bear scat!

Mount Holmes above

A look into the Gallatin Bear Management Area with Antler Peak in the center of the image

More of the BMA - notice the white bark pines on the slope of Mount Holmes

Dome Mountain at the upper right of the image

Steep going! This is the kind of horse trail that @Bob approves of. :D

Not soon after the above shot was taken, TheMountainRabbit passed me after finishing his lunch just above the saddle. He got about 25-30 yards ahead of me when I noticed that he had come to an abrupt stop. I could tell that he was looking intently at something, and my Scatman senses told me that it was a bear. I took my bear spray out of its holster and caught up to MountainRabbit. Sure enough there was a grizzly bear further up on the trail. It was eating white bark pine nuts next to the trail. We took a seat and watched a grizzly bear just being a grizzly bear for maybe five minutes. He turned and looked at us a few times, and didn't seem to be too concerned about our presence. It then left the trail and proceeded to climb a white bark pine tree by the trail to shake out some more pinecones. While at the top of the tree, it also broke off a branch of the tree and carried it back down to the ground. Just after this Ryan and Dreamer caught up to us. Four people must have been too much for the grizzly, because he ran off down the slope of the mountain. I was pretty stoked to have been able to watch it.

The grizzly had just been looking at TheMountainRabbit and myself.

Doesn't seem to interested in us at this point

Making its way up the white bark pine tree

Heading to the top

It's got pine nuts on its mind.

Not often that a grizzly climbs a tree.

After returning to the ground and just before it took off down the mountainside

Well, the juices were flowing after seeing a grizzly. The extra adrenaline helped me get to the summit of Holmes. :)

Electric Peak to our north

Above tree line now

Another shot of Dome Mountain. Trilobite Lake sits at the base of this mountain, just out of view.

Approaching the old fire lookout at the summit

What the lookout looked like back in 2013.

The privy, with Trilobite Point behind

The crew on the summit

At this point TheMountainRabbit headed off trail towards Trilobite Lake, while the rest of us headed down the trail. On his way down to the lake, TheMountainRabbit saw three other bears - two grizzlies and one black bear. I'll let him fill you in on all the details of his three encounters if he so chooses.

TheMountainRabbit making his way towards Trilobite Lake, off the east slope of Mount

Beginning our descent back to camp

A view across Yellowstone

The Mount Holmes Trail

Back at the Winter Creek Patrol Cabin where we met up with TheMountainRabbit who
told us about the three bears that he had seen on his way to Trilobite Lake.

Looks familiar - almost back at camp.

Day 4 - Campsite 1C2 to the Mount Holmes Trailhead - 3.5 miles

It was a cold morning on day four. 21 degrees for those who are counting. My twenty degree bag was a bit chilly in the wee morning hours. I had to curl up into a ball to keep warm. Not only was it cold, but we had fog again, just like the previous morning. This day would be an easy day, with all of us sans @Pringles returning to the trailhead.

Foggy Mountain Breakdown. :) Looks cold! :)

Everybody bundled up?

A group shot before we left camp, minus Pringles. Sorry about that Pringles.

A bison on our way back to the trailhead

One last meadow to cross

After we arrived at the trailhead, we all drove to West Yellowstone and enjoyed a celebratory meal at the Slippery Otter.

At the Slippery Otter

Finishing off a Ghost Stout. A fitting way to end a wonderful trip.

I wanted to thank everyone who participated on this Grizzly Lake Trip. I had a fantastic time, and I hope everyone else had a good time too. I'm already giving some thought into where I might go next year. Thanks again everybody.

The End
Nice horse trail........
Nice bear encounter pics
Looks like good trip
So cool to see that grizzly bear in the tree. Wow! Looks like it was a wonderful trip!
Great Bear Pictures Hugh!
A hike up Mt. Holmes sounds like a good way to spend a day as well.

After what you put me thru this year I might have to consider taking one of these basecamp/day hike approaches on my next visit. :)
Nice evidence that all our bear hangs are safe out there! lol. Looks like an awesome meet up and trip.
That's why they are supposed to be out away from the uprights. So they can't reach to them ....
That's why they are supposed to be out away from the uprights. So they can't reach to them ....
That's a tough one to guarantee when you don't have the benefit of man-made bear poles. I've had to use some dicey branches before haha.
Awesome TR, @scatman Great pics of the griz too.

The unknown wildflower is yellow toadflax, a noxious weed from Eurasia. Can do a lot of harm to range lands. Park folks will probably be interested to hear where you saw this as they've been putting a lot of effort into eradicating this and other invasive species the last few years.
That's a tough one to guarantee when you don't have the benefit of man-made bear poles. I've had to use some dicey branches before haha.
There is a easy way to hang between two trees and pull the bag out away..... I do it all the time
Yeah. . I stumbled across it years ago ... Amazed how simple
Great Bear Pictures Hugh!
A hike up Mt. Holmes sounds like a good way to spend a day as well.

After what you put me thru this year I might have to consider taking one of these basecamp/day hike approaches on my next visit. :)

I think you have that backwards. What you meant to say is what you put me through. Oh, and don't forget the heavy spoon. :)
Awesome TR, @scatman Great pics of the griz too.

The unknown wildflower is yellow toadflax, a noxious weed from Eurasia. Can do a lot of harm to range lands. Park folks will probably be interested to hear where you saw this as they've been putting a lot of effort into eradicating this and other invasive species the last few years.

Thanks @Outdoor_Fool.

I should have known about the toadflax. It blooms here in the foothills of Salt Lake in the late spring / early summer time frame, though I believe it might be a different variety than the one on the west side of Grizzly Lake that we ran into. Dalmatian versus Yellow?
The pic is of yellow as it has the linear leaves. Both are noxious weeds though. Not sure if Dalmatian is in Yellowstone. Guess I’ll have to find out.
Update: According to the Yellowstone website, both yellow and Dalmatian toadflax occur in the Park.
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Oooo, nice trip report. I like the pictures of the places, and the people! I don't usually hike with people, so I'm not very good at people pictures, so I really like yours. The pictures of the hike around Grizzly Lake, and up Mount Holmes are amazing. Part of me wishes I had the gumption to try hikes like that, and the rest of me is pretty happy that I got to where I did. Thank you for letting me come on your trip! It was great meeting all of you.

Based on the temperature of the final night, I'm glad I ducked out. Though, I spent another night in the backcountry a couple of nights ago, and it was 29* by my thermometer (thermodrop), and I was plenty warm and comfortable in my hammock. I've only spent three nights in it, but I've been warm and dry and protected from the wind, and I'm really beginning to trust it.

I love the bear pictures. And the comments about hanging food... can you elaborate on that, please? Maybe a link to the video?

The discussion of weeds, and the park service working to eradicate the invasive weeds reminded me of a park ranger friend who was spraying weeds. The spray "painted" the area a greenish blue. She said that she accidentally sprayed a bull snake, which was "painted." She said that it paralleled her path for 100 yards or more. I freak out when I see snakes, but I think seeing a green-blue bull snake would make me wonder if I was seeing things.
Bogs, Bears and BCPers oh my.

I have enjoyed all the different sides of this tale. I really hate those boggy fords when you just squish down in that dark stuff. yuck.

The bear encounter is truly awesome. I have only had a couple brief sightings, and that one looks like it was awesome. Good shots of climbing the tree.
May I ask which 20d bag you had?

Also, looks like you did not have it bad for the smoke. That Friday in Eastern ID and SW Montana was not kind at all.

Short and sweet!
Yep ..... that video describes it.......... simple, use anywhere.......

Only difference I use, is fixed carabiner on the one rope, pass the other rope thru that carabiner, connect other carabiner to pack...... then you just have to release the one rope to get pack down. You can still pull the pack out away from the tree when the two carabiners jam together..... Or now I just use a ursak with opsak inside tied to the tree ........ even simpler.....
Seems like it was a fantastic trip! Amazing pictures of the grizzly! bears have such cute booties!
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