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Huckleberry Mountain via Sheffield Creek Trail

Moran, Wyoming

Details

Distance

10.1 miles

Elevation Gain

2648 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Elias King

Visit an old fire lookout tower, walk through a burned out forest, and enjoy stunning views of the Tetons and Lake Jackson.

This hike has it all and at 10 miles round-trip, is not difficult depending on the conditions. I hiked it the last weekend of October in tennis shoes and shorts (albeit with leggings) and was dressed adequately for about 2/3 of the hike. The last 1.5 miles on the way to the fire tower was through snow, with some drifts deeper than my knee (I'm 6' tall for perspective). So, dress accordingly!

Driving north from Jackson, on the Rockefeller Parkway, you will see a road on the right for Sheffield Creek, before you get to Flagg Ranch. Follow this road through a stream (not under, not over, but actually through, on concrete pavers) and past a campsite to the parking area. There is a sign there, with a map of the area--you will be hiking into the Teton Wilderness--as well as a marked trailhead for the Huckleberry Lookout. The trail meanders upwards, with wonderful views of the valley and the Snake River roughly 1.5 miles in. From here, the trail continues to climb, entering a magnificent burned forest, some of the trees a photographer's dream, with an added level of spookiness in a dense fog. On a clear day, the Tetons are visible to the south, through the burnt trees.

The trail continues gradually upward to a crest, where it dips down to a small valley with a stream running through it. This is the second of at least three places (dependent on the season) where you will have to jump/ford/or walk across a creek on a tree trunk or branch. The trail here, like earlier, is deeply furrowed, as it is shared with horses. In fact, rising from the stream towards Huckleberry Mountain, there are four furrows. The trail continues up the opposite side of the small valley, with Huckleberry Mountain dominating the view as you climb steadily. The trail swings around to the Northeast side of the mountain, at which point you must take the spur trail in a steep series of switchbacks to the top of the ridge. The trail then heads due south along the ridge to the Fire Tower.

As you can imagine, the spur trail is very difficult to find in virgin snow. The spur can be found over 4 miles into the hike off of a small clearing, and follows the only logical route up the side of the ridge. Nonetheless, I would recommend doing this hike in the summer unless you have proper equipment and are knowledgeable of the area. Remember, the snow was over knee deep at the end of October.

Open year-round, the Fire Lookout Tower was built in 1938 and used by the Forest Service to, you guessed it, locate forest fires. Since being retired, the rustic wooden tower has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. With stunning views of the Tetons and Lake Jackson on a clear day, those who have gone before me acclaim the sunsets and summer thunderstorms which arise from the Southwest. It is possible to spend the night in the fire tower, and there is a fire pit at its base. However, please treat this gem as if all of the Forest Service is watching you! This is a special structure, an old place that should be treated with care and respect.

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Wyoming’s wide-open spaces make it easy to get off the grid and on a trail, through a park, into a forest, up a mountain or down a river. During your journey through Wyoming’s Black to Yellow Region, discover geologic marvels, dense evergreen forests and sprawling prairielands.

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