Dailey Creek Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,668' 509 m
Descent: -39' -12 m
High: 8,378' 2,553 m
Low: 6,748' 2,057 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 24% (13°)
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“This delightful trail leads through open sagebrush meadows along Dailey Creak and up to Dailey Pass.”— Tom Carter
From the trailhead the trail quickly crosses tiny Dailey Creek and follows it as it bends left around formidable Crown Butte. The trail continues north, gently rising through beautiful open meadows, passing a junction with the Black Butte-Dailey Creek Cutoff Trail (on right) at 1.9 miles and the Dailey Creek Spur Trail (on left) at 2.8 miles.
As you get further and further up Dailey Creek, the wall of mountains that hems in the valley on the north and east becomes more and more imposing. The top of this ridge is the irregular shaped boundary to Yellowstone. At one time, the ridge and this valley lay outside the park boundary. In the early 1920s, plans were made to dramatically expand the park by annexing among others: Jackson Hole to the south; the Wapiti Valley to the east; and even the snowy Beartooth Mountains. Of course, these high hopes never completely materialized, but out of them came Grand Teton National Park and several Yellowstone boundary changes. In 1927 this northwest corner of the park was expanded to include the Gallatin Petrified Forest and winter grazing grounds for a large elk herd.
At the 3.6-mile mark the trail enters the trees and begins a 900-foot climb to Dailey Pass in the final 1.4 miles. The pass straddles the boundary between Yellowstone National Park and Custer Gallatin National Forest. Dailey Pass, cluttered with trail signs and boundary markers, is a major 4-way intersection between Yellowstone's Sky Rim and Dailey Creek trails and the NFS Dailey Pass Trail. A left turn follows the final mile of the Sky Rim Trail as it traces the park’s extreme northwestern boundary then continues out of the park on NFS Trail #100 along “One Day Ridge” to Teepee Creek. Straight ahead the NFS Dailey Pass Trail NFS #57 drops down to a junction with the Buffalo Horn Trail. A right turn follows the spectacular Sky Rim Trail up another 600 feet to a junction with the Tom Minor Divide Trail just .7 miles away (if you are making a day trip up Dailey Creek and have time, it is highly recommended you go up to the this junction). From there, the views in every direction are spectacular!
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park