DISTANCE: 12.3 MILES
Trail Type: Lollipop loop
Start Location: 1K1 behind the Liberty Cap in Mammoth; copy this into Google Maps: 44.973416, -110.705517
Total Hiking Time: 7 hours; 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Weather: Sunny and windy. The slopes of Sepulcher are likely very windy for much of the year
Crowd: Not a soul, until we reached the popular Beaver Ponds section near Mammoth. That’s right – we had the whole mountain to ourselves on a Saturday in July
Animal Sightings: Deer and Elk sign, two dusky (blue) grouse, chipmunks, two elk near the Beaver Ponds junction
Fishing Report: N/A (Clematis Creek appears unfishable; Glen Creek hosts a small population of small trout, but the black flies wouldn’t let me stop and fish!)
The National Geographic Map 303 (1:70k scale) shows the ascent to be between 3,250 – 3,500 feet of elevation gain, but we’ve seen estimates as high as 3,800 feet from other sources. You could start this hike from the Snow Pass Trailhead (1K2, less parking and a sharper ascent), or from the Glen Creek Trailhead (1K3, less parking and 2 more miles), but hiking from 1K1 in a counter-clockwise direction up and over the mountain seems to offer the best compromise between grade and distance.
There are a lot of junctions; Steph takes pictures of every junction sign we pass, and, for this hike, she posted detailed directions in the captions for those photos. This is a long, hard hike; bring water (Clematis, at the beginning, and Glen Creek, at the end are both suitable for filtered/sterilized refilling), and prepare for lots of black flies if hiking in July. Steph wore pants, and made out better than I did with bites (I wore shorts). After a little research, I have learned that the Yellowstone area hosts at least one of the six biting species of black flies known in North America. Hence, the large, swelled irritations I have on my legs are the result of females seeking blood meals during the day to develop a batch of eggs at night. Huh. And ouch.
The thing I will remember most about the view from the top of Sepulcher Mountain is the blanket of green that is the Washburn and Blacktail Bear Management Areas – this might be the best way to experience the enormity of that wilderness (there are no official trails through this giant, interior loop section). Sure, you can also see the Tetons and Mt. Sheridan in the far distance, but it was the vastness of that far-stretching pine wilderness that impacted me the most.
A tough dayhike with an excellent 360∘ view and lots of elevation change and July wildflowers.