At 12,244’ elevation, Trout Peak is the highest mountain in the North Absaroka Range. It’s a demanding hike but makes a great two or three day excursion. You could spend several days peak bagging from a base camp, climbing Robber’s Roost, Trout, Dead Indian and Jim Peaks.
What Makes It Great
Scenery, of course, is the name of the game in this area. This is the North Absaroka Wilderness, home of 11,00’ and 12,000’ peaks that divide Sunlight Basin from the North Fork of the Shoshone River. These mountains have steep, talus covered slopes that require some degree of rock scramble in order to stand on the summit.
If you want complete exposure to the Sunlight Basin area, then start your Trout Peak adventure at Dead Indian Campground. This is definitely the longest route at 21 miles one way, with the second most elevation gain at 6,400’ but it’s the only route accessible without a 4WD vehicle.
Head south on the Dead Indian Trail to the meadows and then turn left to attain the ridgeline. This route and the Sprout Springs route are the same after this point.
The second route, begins off the Monument Hill road just north of Cody. This route requires a 4WD vehicle for some sections. Continue 11 miles up the road to an intersection with roads with locked gates. Take the Red Grade Road, or Forest Road 401, another 5 miles or so to the end. Follow this road on foot to the ridgeline. Basically at this point you will continue south along the ridge to the bowl on the northeast side and make a scramble to the top. Sprout Springs to Trout Peak is 12 miles one way with a 4,000’ elevation gain.
The final route is from the southeast and the Jim Creek Trailhead west of Cody. This route also requires a 4WD and is the most difficult. The elevation gain with this route is 6,300’ in 12 miles. From the trailhead hike up Jim Creek and arrive at the meadows north of Jim Peak. Continue through the meadows (indistinct trail) and aim for the headwall at the end of the valley. Stay right of the snowfield and pop out on the ridge. You’ll be south of Trout Peak but will be able to walk the ridgeline with its associated talus to the summit.
Who is Going to Love It
Peak baggers will want to notch their hiking poles after summiting Trout Peak. The big views and ability to wander mostly along ridgelines makes the actual summiting part of the hike very worthwhile. Chances are you’ll have this climb and the whole area to yourself. You can choose where you want to camp and won’t have to worry about encroaching neighbors, except for bears. This is pretty untrammeled country where even the trails fade out.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To reach Dead Indian Campground, from Cody take WY 120 16.8 miles north to the intersection with the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Turn left and continue 21 miles to the Dead Indian Campground.
Sprout Springs is reached 8 miles north of Cody on WY 120. Turn left at the Monument Hill Road, or County Road 7UH.
The Jim Creek Trailhead is located 18 miles west of Cody on US HWY 14/16/20 towards Yellowstone. Turn right and head up County Road 6GV. Take the left fork at 2.5 miles to the end of the road at the Shoshone National Forest boundary.