DISTANCE: 9+ MILES
Trail Type: Out and Back/Loop
Start Location: 2K8 (Hellroaring), 44.949014, -110.450606
Total Hiking Time: 5 hours; 12 pm – 5:00 pm
Crowd: two small groups
Animal Sightings: bison, mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, chipmunks, squirrels, ground squirrels, sage grouse
Fishing Report: N/A, Fishing closed in the park until the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend
Coyote Creek Trail and the Buffalo Plateau Trail lead to a boundary of the park more familiar to outfitters and elk than most Yellowstone hikers, and connect outside of the park via the Poacher’s Trail in the Absoroka-Beartooth Wilderness. Walking north along the western slope of Buffalo Plateau, I stopped counting elk sheds somewhere around the two dozen mark. Remember, its illegal to remove anything from the park, and going off-trail to stack the sheds is less than classy. Both trails are low enough in elevation to become snow-free as early as March or April, and the your odds of seeing Yellowstone’s largest ungulates in the shoulder season are 9 out of 10; I imagine the odds are not much worse in high summer. Both trails promise to be spectacular for wildflowers in May-July, but, between the heat and black flies on the open hillside in July, I would recommend doing this hike earlier in the year, or later in the fall. Even in April, we witnessed heated bison challenges complete with bellowing; I imagine your odds of seeing this behavior in the fall are quite high. True to the creek’s name, we heard a pack of coyotes yipping and calling. A two-night trip, with a stay at one of the many backcountry sites (2C1, 2C2, 2C3, 2B1), would be a solitary and spectacular experience. We made this trip a 9-mile dayhike by following the Coyote Creek Trail and turning around at 2C1.
The best Indiana Jones bridge in the park, taking you to shed-heaven.