Have you ever seen a grizzly bear while snowmobiling through the woods? Well, there is one place it could happen, if your snowmobile isn’t loud enough to scare them off at your approach. The Yellowstone Branch Line Trail runs through grizzly bear territory.
This 34-mile stretch of trail was a rail to trail conversion, from the old Yellowstone branch line. It runs from Warm River to Montana State Line. The long scenic route is popular for mountain biking, horseback riding, and walking in the warmer months. In the winter, it is a hot spot for cross country skiing and snowmobiling.
A recent tunnel collapse on the southern end of the trail, three miles up from the Warm River campground has led to a rerouting of that small section of the trail. The problem is, it was hastily done and the results are less than the best. Instead, you can take an alternate route following the forest service road north from the Bear Gulch parking lot. In about four miles, you’ll meet up with the trail, having bypassed the problem area.
With 34 miles of trail, however, you may not even come across the tunnel collapse, depending upon where you start and how far you go. So do not let this minor flaw throw you. Many adventurers return again and again because of the natural beauty, quiet, and sheer expanse this trail offers.
One access to the trail is accessible from the Warm River campground. However, if you want to avoid the parking fee, you can drive to a new underpass constructed specifically for the sake of accessing this trail. It is located under the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway northeast of Ashton, Idaho. The Bear Gulch Trailhead is about ¼ mile from the parking area at the base of the Targhee National Forest.