The Big Sky Variant is an option for hikers completing the Continental Divide Trail looking for an alternate route that traverses both the Tobacco Root Mountains and Yellowstone National Park. This map is the Wild West Trail’s version of the Big Sky Alternate and includes the route from Highway 12 – west of Helena – to Flagg Ranch, the northern terminus of the Teton Crest Trail.
What makes this route unique is the amount of time spent inside Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding wilderness areas to the east. In order from north to south:
- North Absaroka Wilderness
- Washakie Wilderness
- Teton Wilderness
This trail map also includes a Curly Lake alternate in the Tobacco Root Mountains. The alternate avoids a road walk and passes by a high alpine lake.
In total, this GPX file contains 489.75 miles of original trail. Pit toilets, bear hangs, and bear boxes were marked along the way. The majority of trails are maintained and bushwhacking is at a minimum. Backcountry permits are not necessary for any of the miles except the 2-3 days inside Yellowstone Park – of which the hike is so remote, the chances of running into a ranger is lower than seeing a grizzly bear. If you’re looking for an original hike, this Big Sky Variant is for you.