The Coyote Creek Trail affords nice but not spectacular scenery. It, however, may be used as part of two extended backpacking loop routes, both starting from the Hellroaring Creek Trailhead. To reach the Coyote Creek Trailhead, follow the first 1.5 miles of the Hellroaring Creek Trail
to a trail junction, then turn right and follow the Buffalo Plateau Trail
another .5 miles to the trailhead.
From the Coyote Creek Trailhead, the trail begins a slow but steady 1,300 foot climb through beautiful open meadows up the western shoulder of Buffalo Plateau. As its name implies, there is a good chance you’ll see buffalo here. There’s also a good chance to see elk and the trail’s namesake – coyote. However, Yellowstone’s coyote population has dropped dramatically since wolves were reintroduced in 1996. Members of the canine family are highly territorial, and wolves hunt and kill their canine competitors.
At the 3-mile mark, the trail passes the first of 2 campsites on Coyote Creek (the 2nd one is passed at 3.8 miles). The trail continues to parallel the creek as it climbs. At 5 miles it levels a bit, and by 6 miles it leaves the park and reaches a junction with the Trapper Trail. From there Coyote Creek Trail continues through Custer Gallatin National Forest to its end at the junction with the Telephone Basin Trail.
This trail is often used as part of two extended backpacking loops, both starting from the Hellroaring Creek Trailhead. Loop #1 is accomplished by running the first 6 miles of Coyote Creek Trail to a junction with the Old Trapper Trail, which lies just beyond Yellowstone’s northern border, then taking the Trapper Trail 4.2 miles up to the top of Buffalo Plateau. There you’ll make another right on the Buffalo Plateau Trail
and follow it 6.8 miles back to the Coyote Creek Trail and the junction with Hellroaring Creek Trail
. A great 20-mile loop from the Hellroaring Creek Trailhead.
Loop #2 is accomplished by running the full 8.7-mile length of Coyote Creek Trail, then following the Telephone Basin Trail west, and the Hellroaring Creek Trail
south back to the Hellroaring Creek Trailhead (make sure you take the Hellroaring Stock Cutoff Trail
and use the stock bridge to avoid the dangerous ford on Hellroaring Creek
). In total, a 24-mile loop.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone
Chance to see elk, buffalo, coyote, and grizzly.