Distance: 12.4 miles
Trail Type: Out and Back
Start Location: Black Butte (WK2), between miles 28 and 29 on 191,
Total Hiking Time: 7 hours; 11:30-6:30 pm
Weather: Sunny and hot on ascent, cloud cover on return
Crowd: 3 small groups
Animal Sightings: Ruffed Grouse, Mountain Goats, Chipmunks
Fishing Report: N/A
Black Butte Trail may be the easiest way to access the highest peak on the striking Sky Rim Trail, but that doesn’t make it easy! We promise the views are worth the effort. The trail ascends the entire away, but the first two miles to the Dailey Creek Junction are rolling and easy. Just past the junction, we stopped by to check out back-country site WF1 – the cooking area has great access to water (right on Black Butte Creek, unfishable) and the camping area is in a picturesque meadow.
From the junction, the trail starts picking up grade as it enters a beautiful, healthy, old-growth aspen grove. The trail becomes progressively steeper as it climbs through sections of shaded, dense forest and sage-laden hillsides. For our early August trip, everything looked particularly – crunchy. The trail was dry and dusty until the top, where it disappears in a fragile mountaintop meadow. Spread out to limit your impact for the final few hundred yards to the junction with the Sky Rim Trail. Here, turn east to follow the Sky Rim across a knife-edge saddle to Big Horn Peak. From the peak, enjoy views of the Gallatin Petrified Forest and Tom Miner Basin to the north, the Madison Range, Lone Peak, and the Sphinx to your west, and Electric Peak and Meldrum Mountain to your east. To your southeast (by Meldrum) you can see very distinct burn-lines from the 1988 fires.
A long dayhike to Sky Rim’s tallest peak with fantastic views of the Gallatin Range.