Bliss Pass Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,638' 499 m
Descent: -2,790' -850 m
High: 9,366' 2,855 m
Low: 6,620' 2,018 m
GradeAvg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 60% (31°)
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“The Bliss Pass Trail climbs steeply through some of Yellowstone's most rugged and beautiful country.”— Tom Carter
The trail is described here starting on the Pebble Creek side, since running from east to west the trail gains 1,100 feet less in elevation than coming from the opposite direction. To reach the Bliss Pass Trail from the Pebble Creek side, one must run 8.7 miles up Pebble Creek (from the Pebble Creek Campground Trailhead) or 5.4 miles down Pebble Creek (from the Warm Creek Trailhead near the Northeast Entrance). Hardy runners can reach Bliss Pass in a 15 total mile out-and-back from the Warm Creek Trailhead. It's also possible to run it as a 20-mile trek from the Warm Creek Trailhead through upper Pebble Creek, over Bliss Pass, down Slough Creek, and out at Slough Creek Campground.
The Bliss Pass Trail traverses the mountain ridge that connects Mount Hornaday on the south with Cuttoff Mountain looming ominously to the north. From the trailhead, the trail immediately fords Pebble Creek, which by July is usually not a problem. It then quickly sets to steeply climbing 1,600 feet to the pass. At this lower elevation, trees are a mixed forest of spruce, fur, and lodgepole pine. Soon the trail skirts a fire burn area from the 1988 fires. As you climb higher, the views to the south (Mount Hornaday) and east (upper Pebble Creek) become increasingly good. Near the pass five-needled Limber pine is added to the mix.
At the 2-mile mark, the trail abruptly levels out and the trees become sparse as you reach the eastern side of the pass. Be sure to scramble up the small hill to the right for the best views of upper Pebble Creek which forms a magnificent amphitheater. The snow-clad Beartooth Mountains are also visible to the northeast beyond the park boundary. I thought "Bliss" was an appropriate name for such a beautiful pass until I discovered it was named for a local rancher named Bliss.
The trail continues over fairly level terrain and then begins its long descent (2,700 feet) to the beautiful meadows of Slough Creek. At the 7.1 mile mark, the trail ends at its junction with the Slough Creek Trail some 7 miles from Slough Creek Campground.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.
The northeast corner of Yellowstone is one of the only areas of the park where you have an opportunity to view mountain goats. Though not native to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, these fascinating animals were introduced into the Beartooth Mountains in the 1940s and have crossed over into the park. If present, their stark white bodies are easily spotted against the darker mountains.
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park