The Eagle Creek Trail is a great day outing for groups and families with older children. There’s enough different scenery to keep everyone interested, plus this trail opens up earlier in the spring than some of the other North Fork trails. The route hugs the west side of Eagle Creek and is relatively flat, making this one of the few easy trails along the North Fork. You can make this trail an all-day outing or a fast half day hike.
What Makes It Great
The magic of this trail is that you can go as far as you want, literally. It’s the door for longer hikes over Eagle Pass into the Thorofare region of Yellowstone National Park, which is perfect for backpackers. Day hikers reach the ¾ million acre Washakie Wilderness just a mile from the road so everyone gets a taste of this remote area. This is a 5.5 mile out and back trail traversing through some great old growth Douglas fir and spectacular wildflower meadows.
Although the trail is fairly protected, the snow melts out earlier than some other routes making this a great spring hike. Backpackers can continue on 10 miles to overnight in the lovely Eagle Creek Meadows, at the foot of Eagle Pass. Eagle Peak, the highest point in Yellowstone National Park, is right on the eastern boundary of the park and the Shoshone National Forest. Expect to share the trail with horseback riders and hunters, especially in the fall. The horse corral trailhead will be overflowing with trailers from September through late October.
Who is Going to Love It
Wildlife and wildflower enthusiasts will love this trail, as will older kids with a little stamina and hiking experience. The trail winds in and out of the trees, so it’s a good hike during the late summer heat. Eagle Creek valley is fairly steep-sided with large, dense conifers that provide welcome shade. But you can still get some great vistas to the south. There are spots where you can play in the snow-cold water and there’s an amazing lunch site at the first major water crossing. Look for a grassy patch that overlooks the creek and up the drainage.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Cody, drive 45.1 miles west on Highway 14/16/20, or the North Fork Highway. Access the trailhead from the Eagle Creek Campground. You’ll first pass the Eagle Creek Trailhead, which is the staging area for horsepackers and outfitters. At the campground there is a day use parking area, suitable for at least 10 vehicles. Cross the small wooden bridge with a chain across it, turn left past the private cabins and at the next intersection go right.
Leashed pets are welcome. Take bear spray and keep it on your belt, not in your backpack.