Pine Creek Falls- Absaroka Range
Seventeen miles south of Livingston, MT lies the scenic and popular Pine Creek trail, leading to Pine Creek Falls. Pine Creek Falls itself is an easy hike, with no large hills or obstacles. This makes the hike a popular hike, so expect company along on the trail. Regardless of how many people you pass along this trail, this hike is beautiful any time of the year.
Starting at the easy to access trailhead, the trail winds through a lodgepole forest and slowly gains elevation. This elevation gain tops out at only 460 feet, making it a perfect trail for a kid’s first hike. The scenery is impressive, just like many other hike in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. Black Mountain looms in the distance, adding a majestic character to the trail.
Hiking down the trail, the wilderness boundary is reached at about a third of a mile in. Several bridges cross the trail, allowing for a quick refill of water bottles if needed, but the trail is so short it would be hard to drink enough water along the way. Giardia is ever present on these popular trails, so make sure to properly treat water that is drawn from the creek. Continuing down the trail, a final bridge appears beneath the beautiful Pine Creek Falls.
Standing beneath the falls, it is incredibly impressive to see the effects of erosion over time. Rockhounds will appreciate the collection of rocks that were swept down from the falls, and gathered in small pools. Next to these small pools are side trails, offering impressive views of the falls from the north or south side. Reguardless of which angle you view the falls, they are impressive.
When you eventually leave these beautiful falls (or hike further to appreciate the falls towards Pine Creek Lake), be sure to look out for any trash along the trail. This trail is close to Yellowstone National Park, so it naturally receives heavy use most of the year. The only chance for solitude on this trail is in the winter, although you’re sure to pass at least one other hiker during the off-season. Despite extra company on the trail, Pine Creek Falls is a worthy destination for any short day hike.
Pictures of Pine Creek Falls, and the Trail
Directions to the Trailhead
From Livingston, drive 5 miles south on Highway 89, towards Gardiner. Turn left on East River Road( Highway 540) at this point. Next, drive about 9 miles, turning left at the well signed Luccock Park Road (which will have a sign for Pine Creek Campground). It’s another 2.5 miles to the campground, where at the far end (straight ahead) the trailhead lies.