A short trail in the popular West Fork area that has excellent views.
Gold Butte Trail (31) leaves Forest Road 209 and begins a steady climb through a partially logged area shaded by many large Douglas firs. The cutting has opened up spectacular views out across the Madison Valley and into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Exiting the logged area, the trail maintains a gradual grade for 1/2 mile where it starts to side-hill above Gazelle Creek.
The trail remains high above the creek, turning upstream to the north and entering another logged area. This timber stand was clear-cut in 1987, but past this spot the trail crosses into an area harvested in the mid-1960s where new growth six feet tall now sprouts up everywhere. For the next mile the trail contours around the south side of Gold Butte, joining Standard Creek Road as it ends.
Just 25 miles northeast of Yellowstone National Park and running out of the popular West Fork Recreation Area, this trail climbs up into the quiet beauty of the Gravelly Range. The Madison River and the West Fork boast world famous fishing. For those particularly interested in expeditions down the river, float trips can be arranged both out of Ennis and West Yellowstone. The West Fork Valley teams with aspen that burst into brilliant reds and oranges in the fall. The views out to the Madison and the wildlife make this spot a photographer's haven. This is also an ideal single track mountain bike ride.
Length: 3.5 miles one way. Moderate difficulty
Trail Begins: West Fork Road.Trail Ends: Gold Butte
USGS Map: Squaw Creek, Granite Mountain