Specimen Creek Trail
ElevationAscent: 2,417' 737 m
Descent: -17' -5 m
High: 9,314' 2,839 m
Low: 6,914' 2,107 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 43% (23°)
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“Follows the North Fork of Specimen Creek up 2400 feet, past Shelf Lake, to the spectacular Sky Rim.”— Tom Carter
At the 6.1-mile mark the trail again branches to the left. In the next 2 miles the trail climbs 1400 feet to the banks of beautiful Shelf Lake. The well-named, 7 acre, 40 foot deep, lake sits in a narrow shelf on the side of the mountain. At 9200 feet, Shelf Lake is one of the highest lakes in the park. There are two excellent campsites on the lake; they both have some of the best campsite views in Yellowstone. From the lake, the Specimen Creek Trail continues to the left, gaining another 140 feet in the last .2 miles and ends at its junction with the Sky Rim Trail at the 10.7-mile mark.
Visitors can turn left and follow the Sky Rim Trail as it spectacularly traces the park’s extreme northwestern boundary for almost 10 miles. A right turn follows the Sky Rim Trail up another 780 feet in less than a mile to the top of Sheep Mountain (10095') the highest mountain in this area and which is conspicuously topped by a huge metal screen called a “microflector.” The views from Sheep are out of this world!
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