The Miller Creek Trail is an important connector trail. It links the Lamar River Trail
with the Hoodoo Basin Trail
, the Bootjack Gap Trail
, and the Canoe Lake Trail
, and it is the only way to reach those trails through Yellowstone. The trail closely follows Miller Creek as it meanders its way up the valley providing nice views of the creek and surrounding area. The trail is well marked, easy to follow, and never too steep. The creek purportedly has a healthy population of native cutthroat trout. But most visitors cruse this 7.9 mile stretch on their way to visit the Hoodoo Basin high up in the Absaroka Range near the park boundary.
Miller Creek was named for Adam "Horn" Miller, known as "Montana's Toughest Man." Miller came to Montana in 1854 searching for gold. He first traveled through Yellowstone in 1864 and in 1870 he staked a claim on the Shoo Fly Mine, near Cooke City. In 1877, Miller guided newly appointed Park Superintendent P. W. Norris through the park. Norris later named this creek in his honor.
Keep a sharp eye out for evidence of fossilized trees. After a couple of miles, look for small pieces of petrified wood on the trail. Watch for outcroppings of brown dirt above the trail on the left. You'll pass a number of fossilized trees standing upright in the dirt. Also, as you continue, watch for specimens each time a tributary creek flows down from the left.
Around 55 million years ago, Yellowstone entered a volcanically-active phase. Ashes, mud flows, and breccia from the Absaroka Range entombed the trees that were thriving in this area. As the volcanic matter cooled, cracks formed and water seeped through. This water picked up silica from the surrounding rock and was then soaked up by the tree material, causing the silica to be deposited in each dead tree cell. Over thousands of years the tree decayed away entirely, leaving only the hard rock behind. Please remember, collecting specimens is absolutely forbidden!
At the 7.9 mile mark Miller Creek Trail terminates as it reaches a trail junction with the Canoe Lake Trail
and the Bootjack Gap Trail
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone