This 4.3 mile trail begins about a mile south of Cooke City (just outside Yellowstone’s Northeast Entrance). It climbs nearly 1900 feet to Republic Pass (9979 feet) on Yellowstone’s eastern boundary. From there you can continue into the park on the poorly maintained Cache Creek Trail
The trail lies in the North Absaroka Wilderness Area of Shoshone National Forest. Just a few yards south of the trailhead you cross the wilderness boundary. This is also the boundary between Montana and Wyoming and the 45th parallel of latitude, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. The trail parallels Republic Creek to its source. The creek cuts a beautiful, mostly-forested valley between Republic Mountain (to the right) and Woody Ridge (on the left).
In 1870 gold was discovered in these parts by a rugged group of prospectors including Adam “Horne” Miller and A.B. Henderson. At that time, this land was part of the Crow Indian Reservation, but that did not stop mining development. In 1882 reservation boundaries were redrawn and the mining camps became a town. One of the earliest and most important mines was the Republic Mine. The high elevation, lack of roads, rugged terrain, and short summer season hampered development. In an unsuccessful effort to convince the Northern Pacific Railroad to lay tracks to the town it was named Cooke City, in honor of railroad executive Jay Cooke Jr.
The trail travels along the west side of Republic Creek, gradually climbing up the valley. An occasional break in the trees affords nice views south up the valley to the ridgeline. The distinctive knobby top of Republic Peak and Republic Pass (to its right) can be picked out. At the 2.6-mile mark the trail crosses the creek and begins climbing more steeply. From there it climbs 1450 feet in the last 1.7 miles to the pass. As you near the pass the trail gets steeper and steeper and the views get better and better.
At the pass the views are spectacular. You are high in the rugged Absaroka Mountains (pronounced "AB-sa-RO-ka" or "ab-SAR-o-ka"), which comprise the eastern boundary of Yellowstone. Absaroka, which means “children of the large beaked bird” is the Crow Indians’ name for themselves. To the north, above the Republic Creek are the snowy Beartooths. Peering into Yellowstone, the impressive two-toped mountain to the northwest is Amphitheater Mountain. The valley to the south is drained by a tributary of Cache Creek.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone