FKT: Kristina Pattison - Gallatin Crest Trail (MT) - 2023-09-16

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
13h 21m 37s
GPS track(s)

Accessing the Gallatin Crest Trail #96 from the south, I started at the Buffalo Horn Trailhead on September 16, 2023. Like previous accounts, the trail following the creek drainage was fairly muddy for about seven miles up to Ramshorn Lake. Along the way, the trail passes through idyllic meadows where elk can be heard calling, before cresting the ridge just north of Fortress and Ramshorn Peaks.

Although the trail is not necessarily technical, it is very rocky and rutted and averages altitudes of nine to ten thousand feet making running difficult. It is, however, very well marked and signed in areas where the trail is less traveled. The only issue I had was around mile twelve, where the #96 trail continues on the ridgeline proper just past the summit of Eaglehead Mountain. Rather than descending along the east facing aspect where there may be more water availability as the original posted FKT gpx file would indicate, I stayed on the trail until it became faint near the summit. The trail does not actually summit Eaglehead here and instead dives off the northeast side of the mountain. I discovered this after accidentally continuing west past the summit on a sub-ridge for a short while.

Continuing on along the crest water is scarce, but there is a small creek near the cabin on the west side of Windy Pass around mile fourteen. From there, the trail stays true to the ridge with views of the Taylor Forks, Lone Peak and the Spanish Peaks to the west and the Absaroka range to the east. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep can be seen along the way, as well as wolf sign. Nearing Crater Lake, backpackers warned of grizzly activity after hunters had harvested an elk earlier in the day, but there was no sign of any animal activity in the evening. Finally, the cresting Hyalite Peak around sundown, I was able to make my way back along the Hyalite Creek drainage to the trailhead where my husband and pups happily collected me on the other side.