Deep Creek Trail in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness has 2 forks beginning in the same spot: North Fork and South. The North Fork is a mere 1 mile or so, and goes nowhere near Deep Creek itself, although it does feature spectacular backcountry hiking with views of Elephanthead Mountain and alpine meadows. The South Fork Deep Creek Trail follows the creek through a deep canyon between Mount Delano and Mount McKnight. It begins at the trailhead about 2 miles from the turnoff on Deep Creek South Fork Road, and continues mildly enough uphill through a meadow rife with wildflowers in the spring. It then drops down onto the canyon floor, where you'll cross Deep Creek over a log bridge. Depending on the season and amount of snow runoff, this can be challenging.
The lush canyon embroidered with pine forest amid rocky crags and cliffs will catch your attention and keep it throughout this hike. The area around Livingston is known for its eagle population, so be on the lookout for these majestic birds. A Deep Creek feeder stream provides no problem and can easily be rock-jumped to the other side, after which you'll follow the flow to white water at the foot of Mount Delano. Here, craggy rock formations overhang flat land which you can stroll until you reach a natural amphitheater at Mount McKnight.
Here, Deep Creek heads south, but the trail continues east. Many people return to the trailhead from here, but the more adventurous souls push on with the aim of reaching the Deep Creek Divide, some 2 miles ahead. This requires a climb of almost 1500 feet in a short space, but when you reach the saddle at the top, it levels out and affords furtastic views of the Yellowstone River and the Gallatin Mountain Range.
Primitive camping is permitted throughout the area, but be aware there are no facilities so come prepared with everything you need, including waste bags for Fido, or a spade to bury waste. You may also see mountain goats on this trail, along with unpredictable and powerful moose and mule deer. Give them room.
This challenging, but rewarding hike is not as well known as others in the area, so you may find yourself alone much of the time to enjoy the solitude and quiet beauty with your fur-buddy!
This wilderness area is home to grizzly bears, as well as other large animals like bighorn sheep. Come prepared with knowledge of how these critters will react if they see you, keep your distance, and never run in the opposite direction. They can outrun you and bears can climb trees faster than you can. Keep your dog firmly under control.