Rite of Passage

hiking passage falls

A summer hike to cooler climes.

Passage Falls is a massive, powerful waterfall that leaps over moss-covered rocks and plunges straight down to the narrow, rocky canyon floor. The waterfall is located in the Mill Creek watershed beneath Mount Wallace, just outside the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in the Gallatin National Forest. The trail parallels Passage Creek on the Wallace Creek Trail. The falls is located just below the confluence of Wallace Creek and Passage Creek.

Hiking distance: 5 miles round-trip
Hiking time: 2.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 480 feet
Maps: USGS Knowles Peak, The Pyramid, Mount Wallace
USFS Gallatin National Forest: East Half
Beartooth Publishing: Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness

Driving Directions
From Livingston at the I-90 and Highway 89 junction, drive 16 miles south on Highway 89 to Mill Creek Rd. on the left, between mile markers 37 and 38. Turn left (southeast) and drive 14 miles up Mill Creek to the Wallace Creek trailhead on the right. Mill Creek Rd. is 6 miles north of Emigrant and 36 miles north of Gardiner.

Hiking Directions
The trail begins at the bridge by the confluence of Mill Creek and Passage Creek. Once over Mill Creek, continue south to another bridge crossing over Passage Creek. At one mile, cross a stream by a small waterfall and cascade. After a second stream crossing, the forested trail emerges into a small meadow, then ducks back into the forest canopy. At 1.6 miles, the path forks just before a bridge on the left. Take the right branch to Passage Falls. Climb up the short, steep hill to a slope. From the slope are views overlooking a large meadow on private land. Take the trail to the left and descend the eight switchbacks to Passage Falls. After enjoying the falls, return along the same route.

To extend the hike, the main trail crosses over the bridge and divides at the confluence of Wallace and Passage Creek. The Passage Creek trail follows the creek to Horse Creek and Charlie White Lake. Wallace Creek Trail follows the creek to Mount Wallace and Grizzly Creek. Both routes make connections to Gardiner and Yellowstone.

This description was adapted from Day Hikes Around Bozeman by Robert Stone.