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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 10:30:49 01/27/15

In Reply to: Cross country skiing in Yellowstone posted by Rob (Hiker)


For the benefit of any serious skiers that visit this page, and are not already aware of the options the author did not mention, here are some additional itineraries in the Greater Blacktail/Tower area:

1.) For anyone wanting a good workout, skiing up Blacktail Plateau Drive to the vicinity of The Cut, and simply returning to the start trailhead offers a great 12 mile ski. I've seen skaters flying up and down that trail under optimum or near-optimum conditions that probably did the roundtrip in an hour, maybe less. I've done the roundtrip in under 3 hours a time or two with good conditions.

2.) For those up for a little eclectic exploration, take the old road that goes up past the Blacktail Cabin. It's the trailhead with the privy across from the Blacktail Deer Creek trailhead. The trail is usually tracked as far as the cabin, sometimes beyond it. The real attraction is the powder-laden ridge to the west, once you get past the cabin a ways. I've seen many locals up there powder-bashing on their tele-gear. I've tried it a few times, and it is a ton of fun in fresh powder. Another option is to just keep heading south on or near the old road. Historically, we usually encounter a bison herd around the 1.5 to 2 mile mark, where you top out on the first plateau beyond the cabin. When that happens, we just hang a left, and make a loop out of the trip. You have to be comfortable with breaking trail. This is not an itinerary to countenance in bad weather, with limited visibility.

3.) The author mentioned the trip up the Tower Road as far as the Store and Falls. What he apparently was not aware of is that the best part begins at the Store, where you can commence what many refer to as "The Tower Loop". You can do it clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on how you feel about the steep section of the Old Chittenden Road, just above the Tower Campground. I'm a bit uncertain about the overall mileage, but I think the loop adds about 5 miles to the itinerary.

4.) This last one is only for REALLY hard core skiers, with energy to burn. I've never attempted it myself. There are those who ski all the way from Tower Junction to the top of Mt. Washburn and back in one day. The total mileage is probably between 20 and 25 miles. Having done the Tower Loop countless times, I can say I almost always see tracks heading up toward Washburn, beyond where the Old Chittenden Road intersects the Canyon-Tower Road. Most of the time, those tracks are not abundant, and pre-date the latest storm. I have to believe that skiing back to Tower Junction from the top of Washburn is a real hoot!


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