Hiking Dead Indian Trail, Wyoming

One of my all-time favorite drives is up Sunlight Basin, through Dead Indian pass, and then on to Cooke City, Montana. Because I grew up here, this was a drive we would often make when we had visitors in town, so when I think of this area, I think of really fun memories with family. Even though I have been on this road countless times, I never hiked more than a few hundred yards from the road. One of my goals for our trip to Wyoming was to change that.

After stopping briefly at the Dead Indian overlook, we made our way to the trailhead.

The problem with hiking in this area is that pretty much all of the trails are also used by horses, so they are generally out-and-back and go for miles and miles, deep into the mountains. We settled on hiking a total of 4 miles on the Dead Indian trail. While this trail continued to several destinations, we wanted to limit our hike to 4 miles because of the heat, the lack of consistent shade, and the fact that we had Daisy with us.

The trail starts directly across the highway from the Dead Indian Campground and heads straight into the mountains, parallel with Dead Indian Mountain. It was such a cool perspective to walk along a formation we had seen from the overlook above just a few minutes prior. It was a perspective that I have never experienced and one that I thoroughly appreciated getting both vantage points on the way out and then back.

The terrain along the trail was breathtaking. From the mountains jutting up around us, to the creek we could hear running nearby but could rarely see due to the deep cliff walls on either bank, to the myriad wildflowers blooming in every direction, this hike surpassed every expectation.

While the hike was pretty much all up hill from the start until we turned around, it was a well-worn and incredibly nice trail. Even though we were reluctant to turn around when we did, as we headed back toward the truck, the sky behind us continued to get darker and darker, with a few crashes of thunder way off in the distance. The storm never materialized around us, but that is not something we ever want to risk.

When we returned to the truck, Bird and I ate lunch while Daisy cooled off and relaxed and Will hopped down to the creek to see if he could catch a fish or 2. In the short time he fished, he caught a few beautiful rainbow trout, making his day even better.

From the trail, we made our way on toward Cooke City, stopping briefly to see the waterfall at Crazy Creek. This waterfall has always been a favorite stop for me, mostly because of the memories of coming here with so many family members, but also because you never really know what to expect. Is it going to be a trickle or is it going to be raging? On this day, it was raging beyond its banks in a way I had never seen before. It was truly impressive.

We wrapped up our day with a brief stop to see Pilot Peak and a quick drive through Cooke City, then made our way back down the mountain. When we set out in the morning, we knew this would be the first of at least 2 trips into this area, so we did not press on further to try to go into the Beartooth Mountains or beyond.

Even though this road is one I know incredibly well, I absolutely loved getting a fresh perspective from the trail. So much about our trip to Wyoming was a look at familiar sights with fresh, more mature eyes, and this was definitely one of those times. It was so much fun to return to a place where I have such fond memories of growing up, to show off a place that I adore, and to establish new memories with my family.

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