Yellowstone NP: Mid-September Options

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Feb 15, 2020
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I'm trying to put together a trip in the GYE for later this year and have looked at a few options, but don't feel 100% comfortable w/ any of them. I thought I'd post here and get some thoughts/suggestions, if anyone has any.

Based on the dates I have available, I'm thinking inside the park would be ideal - I like to avoid hunting activity - but I'm open to other options. My brother and I are 100% committed already, but we may bring along a couple others as well.

A few options I've considered:
  1. Younts Peak and Wall Mountain via Brooks Lake TH (or similar)
    • this was my first choice for my late August trip, but opting for a traverse in the Winds instead
    • concerned about hunting activity in mid September
  2. Lamar River/Pelican Valley/Mirror Plateau
    • this trip has been on my radar for a long time, but in mid September BMA restrictions make getting from the Wapiti Lake area to a Lamar Valley TH via Mirror Plateau logistically difficult
    • I'd be very interested if anyone has an interesting alternative to closing this loop
  3. Bechler to Shoshone (loop via Pitchstone Plateau)
    • seems like a good candidate for the time of year, but prefer a trip more in the style of the previous options
  4. Gallatin Range Loop
    • routes I've looked at are generally shorter; I'd prefer to make full use of my available days, since this is one I could more easily squeeze in another time
    • higher elevation increases chances of ending the trip due to weather and could limit options for extending trip via day hikes (like Electric Peak)
  5. Northern GTNP
    • haven't really looked at this seriously, but I've never really gotten out into this area and would potentially be interested
Our fitness level is pretty good and I generally try and abide by the below parameters:
  1. Elevation/day averaging ~3,500' or less
  2. Mileage averaging ~15 miles/day, but up to 25 miles on-trail
  3. Off-trail mileage is obviously much more variable, but I'm comfortable w/ route-finding
  4. Snow travel should be doable w/ trail runners and lightweight spikes
  5. Water crossings are not a problem
Last year at the same time of year we did a loop out to the Thorofare region via the South Boundary Trail then circling up to Yellowstone Lake and over to Heart Lake. It was an excellent experience and - while I'm not trying to duplicate it - it is the general type of trip I'm looking for. (High-level map below for reference.)

154N.jpg
 

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scatman

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Close the loop on your option 2 by staying at one of the campsites at Wapiti Lake, then backpack up and over the Mirror Plateau, picking up the old trail coming down Opal Creek, and then staying your last night at campsite 3L2 on Cache Creek before returning to the trailhead..
 

Outdoor_Fool

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If you want to complete the Lamar/Pelican/Mirror Plateau Route, you can camp at Wapiti Lake (or any of the campsites in that region) then head northeast across Wrong Creek and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (that was our new kitten walking across the keyboard) head down to Lamar R just south of Opal Creek. Another option is to leave the Wapiti Lake region and head east past Mirror Lake, then head down to the Lamar R via the unnamed drainage N of Clover Creek. I had a trip planned last Sept that included going from lower Cache Creek up to Wapiti Lake but the unusual rain/snow storm that hit brought the Lamar R up a foot so I did not attempt to cross it.

With the mileages you mention, the Gallatin area can easily be joined into a variety of other sections of the park to the east. Start at any of the THs along Hwy 191, go over Electric, Fawn, or Bighorn Pass, come out at Glen Cr or Indian Cr TH, and keep on going toward the Solfatara Plateau and beyond.

Northern GTNP is a great area and really quiet compared to the rest of the park. The scenery is not as dramatic as the canyons to the south, but hold their own. Moose Cr Basin is an awesome place to visit and you can create all kinds of loops in that region, even joining into the main trail system to the south. Ortenburger Lake is another great destination. It is easy to obtain permits for that northern region and you can use the Jed Smith Wilderness to help travel south if you can't pick up a permit in the busy part of the park.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2020
Messages
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Close the loop on your option 2 by staying at one of the campsites at Wapiti Lake, then backpack up and over the Mirror Plateau, picking up the old trail coming down Opal Creek, and then staying your last night at campsite 3L2 on Cache Creek before returning to the trailhead..
Thanks! I think I was getting hung up on trying to connect to the Specimen Ridge trail down to the TH, but this makes more sense. I'll look into this one, as well as the other drainage @Outdoor_Fool references. In fact, it looks like almost any of those drainages probably "go", though I'm sure some are less pleasant than others. Going to be dealing with lot of deadfall throughout that area regardless.
 
Joined
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I think I've settled on basically the route below, permits pending. Day 2 will be a bit of a pain (hopefully the good kind), but planning on two nights at/near Wapiti Lake anyway. The two BMAs we'll pass through are day-use only in mid September, so we'll have to make sure we're mindful. Looking forward to getting back out there.

3C4P.jpg
 

Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
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Sep 23, 2016
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You www. To have several excellent options available for you. Happy for you. Both the Younts Peak and the Lamar Trips sound Great! If going up the Lamar, the Hoodoo Basin nearby is Excellent Also. Wishing You The Best!
 

scatman

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Joined
Dec 23, 2013
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I think I've settled on basically the route below, permits pending. Day 2 will be a bit of a pain (hopefully the good kind), but planning on two nights at/near Wapiti Lake anyway. The two BMAs we'll pass through are day-use only in mid September, so we'll have to make sure we're mindful. Looking forward to getting back out there.
Looks like a good route. My group, a few years ago, had a Grizzly Bear hanging out for a couple of days at the campsite you've chosen on Mist Creek.
 

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