This 19.3-mile trail across the Gallatin Range begins 2.2 miles from the Mammoth to Norris Road (reached via the Glen Creek Trail
) and ends on Highway 191 north of West Yellowstone. The trail quickly crosses calf-high Glen Creek and climbs 500 feet in the first 1.4 miles. From this vantage, runners get a commanding view of Swan Lake Flat (also known as Gardner’s Hole) to the southeast and nice views of the Gallatin Range to the west.
The trail then bends to the right and drops 170 feet to a knee-high crossing of the Gardner River at 2.5 miles. There are several campsites in the area. Fishing is good for small brook trout on the upper Gardner River, named for Johnson Gardner, who trapped beaver in the area in the 1830s. You may want to keep your water-shoes on, since the trail crosses Fawn Creek in another 400 yards.
At the 2.6-mile mark, the trail passes Fawn Lake Campsite (1F2). Due to bear restrictions, there are no other campsites for the remainder of the Fawn Pass Trail. From there, the trail closely follows Fawn Creek all the way to the pass, fording it once at the 4.7-mile mark. As you make the gradual 1,200-foot climb over the next 5 miles through beautiful meadows, the views get better and better. At 8.9 miles, a short spur trail to the left crosses Fawn Creek to reach the Fawn Pass Patrol Cabin. Just before the pass, you’ll see the small lake that is the source of Fawn Creek.
Fawn Pass is a wide gap in the Gallatins. The views from the pass are nice, and they get even better as you continue west and get views down to the lush green meadows of the Gallatin River drainage ahead on the left. At the 14.1-mile mark, the Fawn Pass-Bighorn Pass Cutoff Trail
is passed on the left, giving runners access to the Bighorn Pass
Trail and the Gallatin River.
The Fawn Pass Trail continues through intermittent meadows and follows a small tributary stream leading down the mountain to join Fan Creek. At the 18-mile mark, the trail passes the Fan Creek Trail
on the right. Look for moose in the marshy, willow-choked meadows. At 18.5 miles, the Fawn Pass Spur/Bacon Rind TH Trail
splits to the right. This trail requires significant fords of both Fan Creek and the Gallatin River, and is primarily used by horse parties.
The Fawn Pass Trail continues to the left through the trees, and in the last .3 miles crosses a very marshy and braided Gallatin River on a series of footbridges. The trail ends at a large parking area on Highway 191.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone
Runners will often see herds of elk and occasionally spot mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the high mountain meadows. Grizzly bears are also frequently seen on this trail.