Hiking up Sleeping Indian (11,239 feet) via Flat Creek Road, off the Elk Refuge, is between
six and seven miles one-way. The climb is somewhere between 4,100 and
4,300 vertical feet, and the distance is just an estimation considering the
trail isn’t actually signed. Without running, the trek to the summit takes about two hours, but you get slowed down a bit because there's roughly 800 feet in elevation for every mile, and there are tons of photo-worthy stopping points.
Hit this hike during wildflower season, and it will blow your mind. Just try not to take 50+ photos per mile. Arrowleaf balsamroot. Wild roses. Lupine. And plenty of other colorful varieties.
The parking area for this trail is 1.2 miles past the East Parking Lot on
the Flat Creek Road. To get to the East Parking Lot, take Broadway Avenue to its
end, turn left onto the Elk Refuge Road, take that several miles in and, instead of turning right to go up to Curtis
Canyon, stay straight. The road is in pretty good shape – any kind of car can do it --
until just after the East Lot. From there, things get a little western, and high clearance vehicles become a priority.
You’re there when a doubletrack splits off to the left. The
trail starts at the end of this doubletrack, but you could be forgiven for
thinking there's no trail at all, because when the flora is excessive, as it generally is all summer long, the trail is quite overgrown. The first 20 minutes ascend a lush gully and are the worst
in terms of bush bashing. Just as the plant life begins to settle down, the trail becomes fairly steep. About 1,000 vertical feet up, you get your first good look
toward the Tetons, but they'll be behind you.
The trail weaves in and out of whitebark forests and through
meadows of wildflowers. When you pop out on the Indian’s belly, it looks like you’re
almost there, but you still have about 1,300 vertical feet to go. There’s a tiny bit of scrambling on loose rocks as you
ascend the final 400 feet, but it doesn’t last long and a faint trail reappears
there. If you lose it, just stay to the left, but not so far left you walk over
the edge. The drop off Indian’s eastern side is steep and substantial.
A note to dog owners: there’s little to no water along the