The hike to Big Horn Peak from the Black Butte Trailhead is a long dayhike through sage meadows, lodgepole pine forests, and across a perilous mountain ridge. As the tallest mountain on Yellowstone’s famous Sky Rim trail, Big Horn Peak has sensational views and its fair share of Yellowstone’s hidden wildlife.
The early trail follows a gently rolling open forest along Black Butte Creek. As you approach the 2 mile mark, you enter a large meadow with King Butte Mountain to the north and reach the junction with the Dailey Creek Patrol Cabin Trail. Continuing east across the meadow, you’ll find welcome shade at the forest edge and a sign for the WF1 backcountry site.
If you will be staying at WF1, follow the spur trail across two forks of Black Butte Creek. The site is in great condition with a large fire ring, easy access to water, and a well-constructed food pole.
The trail quickly gains elevation from the meadow junction with the scenery changing from lodgepole forest to sage meadow several times. Just before the 5-mile mark you will begin walking along the forested ridge to the Sky Rim junction. As you near the junction the trail fades into the mountaintop meadow, but posts and blazes help keep you on track. From the junction, cross the knife-edge trail to the east for the true summit of Big Horn Peak. See the Tom Minor Basin, Gallatin Petrified Forest, and a multitude of peaks from the Absaroka, Gallatin and Madison Ranges.
Keep an eye out for wildlife on the craggy cliffs along the Sky Rim. Big Horn Peak is named after the many bighorn sheep that frequent its steep walls. Other notable trailside animals include grouse, bears, and non-native mountain goats.