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Skyline Trail

Mountains Rolling Below Skyline Trail
The lower Gros Ventre Mountains rolling downward below the Skyline Trail at sunset. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

The Skyline Trail is a moderate 7.4 mile (one way) hike along the eastern ridge of Snow King Mountain in the Gros Ventre Mountains. While the trail itself is a moderate hike, getting there can be more difficult. Multiple options allow for access to the Skyline Trail, including the Cache Creek Trail to the Game Creek Trail, Ferrin’s Trail, the Snow King Summit Trail, or even the Snow King Gondola, just to name a few. For the purposes of this post, we’ll be looking at simply the trail itself.

Skyline Trail Description

The Skyline Trail begins at the saddle below the Snow King Summit and its opposite peak to the east, crowned with communications towers. Forking off from the Snow King Summit Trail eastward, the Skyline Trail begins as it gently ascends around the peak with communication towers at the top. You’ll pass through a peaceful mixed aspen and evergreen grove before making a large switchback descending to the next saddle. Along the way, stunning views southeastward open up, offering a taste of what’s to come.

Winding down from the pleasant aspens, you reach a junction with the Ferrin’s Trail and the Wilson’s Canyon Trail. Continue straight to remain on the Skyline Trail.

Distant mountains rising beyond the Skyline Trail at sunset. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

From the junction, you’ll climb through the meadow and into an old forest. Switchbacks guide you up through the dense woods as you begin to make your way up to a large clearing on the south side of the crest. Beginning at this clearing you’re treated to some incredible views that persist for a lengthy duration. Throughout this area, you get outstanding views looking down West Game Creek and the Game Creek drainage beyond.

As you wind around the south side of the crest, the sparsely forested trail continues to show off beautiful views southward. You’ll soon begin winding across the crest through meadows, the views never fading. Brief ascents and descents accompany the Skyline Trail as the views begin to become more limited.

As you enter an old forest, you’ll cross over to the north side of the crest, where the mostly level trail is contained within the woods. This lengthy stretch sees one relatively significant drop in elevation, before making another similar ascent back up. Along the way rocky outcroppings can be seen above, while the north side of Cache Creek Canyon can be glimpsed through the canopy of trees surrounding you.

The Game Creek Trail winding through a canyon below the Overlook Trail spur along the Skyline Trail. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

At 5.7 miles in, you’ll reach a junction with a short spur for the Viewpoint Trail. This quick and easy detour easily brings you back up to the crest where dramatic views looking down Game Creek and the nearby saddle below stretch into the surrounding mountains. At less than 0.25 miles round trip, it’s well worth visiting.

Back on the Skyline Trail, you’ll begin descending through the forest, at times a bit steeply. Switchbacks will begin guiding you down as the forest begins to thin out. As you continue to descend, stunning views eastward begin to be seen through the trees.

Mountains Beyond Skyline Trail
Gros Ventre Mountain peaks rising beyond the Skyline Trail. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

The forest will come and go along the drop in elevation as the views begin to dramatically open up. You’re treated to even more outstanding views of Game Creek and the surrounding canyon as the switchbacks become less steep, offering an incredibly rewarding hiking experience. You’ll make your way through a large meadow before reaching a small forest grove, where on the other side is another junction. This junction, resting on the saddle complete with its own enticing views of the mountain directly ahead, marks the eastern terminus of the Skyline Trail.

From here, you’ve ideally made plans to either get to a shuttled car using the Game Creek Trail (which would be to the right), or make a loop using the Cache Creek Trail network (to the left).

Getting There

There are two ways of accessing the Skyline Trail: one is from the summit of Snow King Mountain (as described here); the other is by accessing the eastern terminus along the Game Creek Trail (the reverse of this post). For the former, either hike up to the saddle below the summit of Snow King Mountain, or take the gondola up and hike a short distance down to the summit. For the latter, the easiest route would be to hike up Cache Creek 4 miles to the junction with the Game Creek Trail.

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Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com