Grinnell Meadow Trail - Hiking

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Grinnell Meadow Trail is one of the best routes on the North Fork to see moose. The trail is a moderate, but sustained uphill for the first 3 or so miles, then it opens out into some of the best meadows in the range where you’ll be rewarded with inspiring views.

Written by

Leslie Tribble


12.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

43.3 miles


5 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 days


Summer and Fall

Summer - Early Fall

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits




This 12 miles trail is an out and back and is rated difficult simply due to the length. The first three miles are uphill but it’s not a complete lung buster. Overall the elevation gain is fairly well spread out over the 6 miles back to the meadows. Here you’ll immerse yourself in grass that can be three feet tall in some years.There are numerous ankle deep creek crossings fairly close together starting at the 2.1 mile point and continuing to 3.3 miles followed by more at 5.6 miles. You’ll cross Grinnell Creek itself and this crossing can be more substantial than the others. In spring the meadows can be soggy, but since you’ve already crossed those creeks it won’t matter.

What Makes It Great

Grinnell Meadows Trail is the perfect trail to spend all day on. Although there’s a lot of uphill, you expect that when you’re hiking so it doesn’t seem terribly taxing. The trail is nicely shaded until you arrive at the meadows but you can get more than enough sun out in the grass looking for moose.  The meadows are a good camping spot for backpackers. This is one of the few trails that takes you into the North Absarokas. The trail travels through mixed pine and deciduous forests but there’s not a lot of spectacular wildflowers to see. 

Who is Going to Love It

Those hikers who are happy to hike for quite a way in order to get a reward of big vistas at the end are the perfect users for this trail. This isn’t the best trail for kids as there’s not quite enough differing terrain and habitats to keep them interested and the length can be prohibitive. You should see some varied wildlife including mule deer, elk, moose and bears. If you do see moose, don’t approach them. Their temper is as bad as their eyesight. Its not unusual see signs of wolves, or even hear them if you’re out early enough in the morning. 

The meadows themselves make a great snoozing spot to refresh before the hike back to the car. This trail is named for an early day surveyor, Joseph S. Grinnell from Sheridan, Wyoming. He was a distant relative to famous George Bird Grinnell, who was an early proponent of the conservation movement in the late 1800s.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Cody, take Highway 14/16/29 or the North Fork Highway west 48.1 miles. This trailhead is not signed in any way, you’ll need to look for the locked gate on Forest Road 463.  If you drive past Shoshone Lodge or Sleeping Giant Ski Area, you’ve gone too far. Parking here can be tight as there’s only room for 2-3 cars or a small car and horse trailer. There are no fees and leashed pets are permitted. Carry bear spray. This trail is about a 50 minute drive from town.

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Grinnell Meadow Trail

Cody, WY, 82414
44.492927, -109.93219

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