Be ready for a tough climb with scrambling on steep ridges and over loose scree.
Climbing Electric Peak
is a Yellowstone classic! At nearly 11,000 feet, Electric is the monarch of northern Yellowstone. From the peak, hardy runners can see nearly 100 miles in every direction on a clear day - from the Tetons to the south, to the Beartooths in the east, to the Crazys up north, and the Madison Range out west. The views cannot be beat!
The trailhead for the Electric Peak
-Southeastern Ridge Trail is 6.2 miles from the Mammoth to Norris Road, and is reached via the Glen Creek Trail
. The Electric Peak
Trail starts slowly, but ends with a bang. The first 1.2 miles meander through forests and meadows gaining little elevation. Then it breaks out to a dramatic overlook of the Gardiner River. From there, the trail picks up the southeast ridge and closely follows it, ascending nearly 3,000 feet in the next 2.1 miles.
For decades, Electric was thought to be Yellowstone's highest peak. Park maps well into the 1900s showed its elevation as over 11,000 feet. More accurate observations determined the peak to be 10,992 feet above sea level. And further explorations of the rugged Absaroka Range on the park's eastern boundary identified 5 Yellowstone peaks that are higher (however, none are accessible by trail).
At the 2-mile mark, the trail breaks out of the trees for good and the views become grander and grander, and the trail steeper and steeper, each step of the way. At 2.7 miles, notice the change in geology. From here to the top the iron-rich sedimentary rocks take on a decidedly red color. The last .6 miles is a scramble over seemingly endless piles of this rock. Along the way, you cross over the boundary between Wyoming and Montana (most of Yellowstone lies in Wyoming with small portions in Montana and Idaho).This is also the 45th parallel of latitude, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator.
In 1872, members of the second Hayden Survey set out to climb Electric Peak
. As they neared the summit the geological party heard a "crackling noise" and felt electricity "so strong that [they] were obliged to . . . hurry down." This is how Electric Peak
got its name. As you reach the summit, it's doubtful you'll be shocked, but you'll get a strong sensation from the panoramic view that unfolds. There's a sign in box, so you can place your name among those who have reached the top. Congratulations, you're a member of an elite group!
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone