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Welcome to The Total Yellowstone Day Hike Page

The following information is a combination of information from a Park Service Hiking Brochure, Theresa Husarik a fellow hiker, and personal experience.


Yellowstone Day Hikes

Mammoth Hot Springs Area

1. Beaver Ponds Loop
Roundtrip distance - 5 miles (8 km) - Difficulty - easy to moderate.
The trail begins between Liberty Cap and the stone house in Mammoth Hot Springs. It follows Clematis Creek, climbing 350 feet (107 m) through spruce and fir trees. The beaver ponds are reached after hiking 2.5 miles (4.0 km) through open meadows of sage and stands of Douglas fir and aspen. Beavers are generally active only in the early morning or evening. You are more likely to see evidence of their presence - a lodge, gnawed trees - rather than the critters themselves.

2. Boiling Springs / 45th Parallel
Roundtrip distance - .5 mile (.8 km) - Difficulty - easy.
Trailhead: On the Mammoth to Gardiner road at the 45th Parallel parking area.
Main attraction: A hot spring flows into the river at this point, and you are allowed to get in.

3. Bunsen Peak
Roundtrip distance - 4.0 miles (6.4 km) or more, depending on route - Difficulty - somewhat strenuous.
The trail begins at the entrance of the Old Bunsen Peak Road Trail, 5.0 miles (8.0 km) south of Mammoth toward Norris. The 1,300 foot (394 m) climb to the summit features panoramic views of the Blacktail Plateau, Swan Lake Flats the Gallatin Range and the Yellowstone River Valley. Return by the same route or take the trail down the back side of Osprey Falls trailhead (about 2 miles (3.2 km) and return via the Old Bunsen Peak Road Trail. The road itself is closed to automobile traffic but open for hiking and biking.

4. Wraith Falls
Roundtrip distance - 1.0 mile (1.6 km) - difficulty - easy.
The trail begins at a pullout 0.2 miles (0.3 km) east of Lava Creek Picnic Area on the Mammoth - Tower road. This short easy trail passes through open sagebrush and pine-fir forest to the base of the 79-foot (24 m) Wraith Falls cascade on Lupine Creek. There are plenty of wild flowers and birds to enjoy along this easy and pleasant hike. You should also look for elk and buffalo rubs on the trees along the trail.

Tower - Roosevelt / Lamar Valley Area

5. Lost Lake Loop
Roundtrip distance - 4.0 miles (6.4 km) - Difficulty - easy/moderate.
The trail starts behind Roosevelt Lodge and climbs through forested hillsides to a trail junction. Veering right (west), the trail reaches Lost Lake in 0.2 miles (0.3 km). From there, follow the trail around a hill to the Petrified Tree and the parking area. At the northeast end of the parking lot, the trail continues through open sage hilltops and descends to the Tower Ranger Station. Roosevelt Lodge is a 0.2 (0.3 km) walk from the station. This is a nice hike, we saw three bull moose in the trees below the Petrified Tree parking area.

6. Yellowstone River Picnic Area
Roundtrip distance - 4.0 miles (6.4 km) - Difficulty - easy.
Trail begins at the Yellowstone Picnic area, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of the Roosevelt/Tower Junction on the Northeast Entrance road. A spectacular view of the northernmost portion of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone River is found on this easy trail which parallels the canyon for most of its length.

7. Slough Creek (to first meadow)
Roundtrip distance - 4.0 miles (6.4 km) - Difficulty - easy/moderate.
The trail starts on the gravel access road to Slough Creek Campground, then climbs through stands of Douglas-fir forest to an open area with a good view of Cutoff Mountain. It then descends to the broad open valley of Slough Creek, the "First Meadow."

8. Trout Lake
Roundtrip distance - 1.2 miles (1.9 km) - Difficulty - easy.
The trail starts from a small pullout about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south of Pebble Creek Campground on the Northeast Entrance road and climbs about 150 feet (45.5 m) through Douglas-fir forest to the lake.

9. Tower Fall
Roundtrip distance - 1.0 mile (1.6 km) - Difficulty - somewhat strenuous due to climb from the base of the falls.
Trail starts by the Tower Falls General Store. This trail leads to an overlook approximately 100 yards (91 m) of Tower Falls. From there it descends 200 feet (61 m) via a series of switchbacks to the bast of the 132-foot (40 m) falls, where the view is even more dramatic. This is a very nice hike and view of the falls, beautiful scenery on all sides.

Canyon Area

10. Mount Washburn
Roundtrip distance - 6 miles (9.7 km) - Difficulty - somewhat strenuous.
Two trails lead to the top of Mt. Washburn (10,243 feet - 3,107 m), from which you will discover a panoramic view of about 20-50 miles (32-80 km) in all directions. On clear days, the Teton Range south of Yellowstone can be seen. During July, wildflowers carpet the slopes. The southern trail starts at the Dunraven Pass trailhead and the northern trail starts at the Chittenden Road parking area. Both trails climb steadily about 1,400 feet (425 m) and are 3.0 miles (4.8 km) long one way. Caution: carry an extra layer of warm clothing and wind/rain gear; water, energy food and sun screen are also recommended. Conditions at the summit are typically colder and windier than at the trailheads, and afternoon storms are common.

11. Cascade Lake
Roundtrip distance - 4.4 to 5 miles (7.1 to 8 km) - Difficulty - easy.
The shortest trail in to Cascade Lake starts at the Cascade Lake Trail Picnic Area, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of Canyon Junction on the Canyon - Tower road. After approximately 1.2 miles (1.9 km), the trail connects with the Cascade Creek Trail and continues to the lake. Total distance is 2.2 miles (3.5 km). Another route begins at the Cascade Creek Trailhead about 0.5 (0.8 km) west of Canyon Junction on the Canyon - Norris road. This trail follows Cascade Creek to Cascade Lake, a distance of 2.5 miles (4.0 km).

12. Washburn Hot Springs
Roundtrip distance - 4 miles (6.4 km) - Difficulty -
Trailhead: At Glacial Boulder on Inspiration Point Road.
Main attraction: remote Hot Spring group.

13. Clear Lake/Ribbon Lake Loop
Roundtrip distance - 3 to 6 miles (4.8 - 9.7 km) depending on route - Difficulty - easy.
Starting at the Wapiti trailhead on the South Rim Drive to Artist Point (about 2.0 miles (3.2 km) south of Canyon Junction on the Canyon - Lake road), this relatively level trail winds through meadows and forest and passes by several lovely backcountry lakes - Clear Lake, Lily Pad Lake and Ribbon Lake. The trail can be hiked as far as Clear Lake (3.0 miles - 4.8 km roundtrip) or Lily Pad Lake (4.0 miles - 6.4 km roundtrip) for a shorter walk; total distance around the loop is 6.0 miles - 9.7 km.

Fishing Bridge - Lake Area

14. Elephant Back Mountain
Roundtrip distance - 3 miles (4.8 km) - Difficulty - moderate/difficult.
Starting at a turnout 1.0 mile (1.6 km) south of Fishing Bridge Junction, this trail climbs 1.0 mile (1.6 km) through a lodgepole pine forest before reaching a junction. At this point, either trail leads to a panoramic view of Yellowstone Lake, Pelican Valley and the Absaroka Mountains (0.5 mile - 0.8 km).

15. Pelican Creek
Roundtrip distance - 1 mile (1.6 km) - Difficulty - easy.
Starting at the west end of Pelican Creek bridge, 1.0 mile (1.6 km) east of the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, this diverse, easy trail travels through forest, along lake shore, and across a marshy area via boardwalks. Look for wildlife.

16. Storm Point
Roundtrip distance - 3 miles (4.8 km) - Difficulty - easy/moderate.
Due to road construction, hiking access to Storm Point may be limited. Please check at the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center or the Lake Ranger Station for current access updates. Starting at a large turnout at Indian Pond, 3 miles (4.8 km) east of the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, this level loop crosses meadow and forest before reaching the tip of Storm Point, where you will find expansive views of Yellowstone Lake and surrounding mountains. The trail continues along the lake shore and through a lodgepole pine forest before rejoining the road.

Grant Village Area

17. Riddle Lake
Roundtrip distance - 5 miles (8 km) - Difficulty - easy/moderate.
The trailhead is about 3.0 miles (4.8 km) south of Grant Village Junction, just south of the Continental Divide sign. This fairly level trail crosses the Continental Divide and runs through forest and marshy meadows to the shores of a picturesque little lake. Bear Management Area - trail opens 15 July.

18. Lake Overlook
Roundtrip distance - 2 miles (3 km) - Difficulty - moderate.
The trail begins at a trailhead maker near the entrance of the West Thumb Geyser Basin parking area and climbs through a mountain meadow to a commanding view of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake and the surrounding Absaroka Mountains. This trail is mostly level, with a moderately strenuous 400 foot (121 m) elevation gain near the overlook.

19. Shoshone Lake (via DeLacy Creek)
Roundtrip distance - 6 miles (9.7 km) - Difficulty - moderate.
Starting at the trailhead sigh at DeLacy Creek, 8.8 miles (14.2 km) west of West Thumb Junction, the trail runs along the forested edge and through open meadows to the shores of Yellowstone's largest backcounty lake.

Old Faithful Area

20. Lone Star Geyser
Roundtrip distance - 5 miles (8 km) - Difficulty - easy.
The trailhead is just east of the Kepler Cascades pullout, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) southeast of the Old Faithful overpass on the Old Faithful - West Thumb road. This level trail and bicycle path follows an old service road along the Firehole River to the geyser. Note: off-trail biking is illegal; biking is not permitted beyond the geyser. Lone Star Geyser erupts about every three hours from its 9 foot (2.7 m) high cone. Eruptions are 30-45 feet (9-14 m) high. If you witness an eruption, please report it at the Old Faithful Visitor Center.

21. Mallard Lake
Roundtrip distance - 7 miles (11.2 km) - Difficulty -
Trailhead: Old Faithful area.
Main attraction: excellent area for viewing wildflowers, spectacular scenery, thermal features.

22. Mystic Falls
Roundtrip distance - 2.4 miles (3.8 km) - Difficulty - moderate.
The trailhead is about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Old Faithful on the main road to Biscuit Basin. The trail starts near Avoca Spring at the west end of the boardwalk. Mystic Falls, a 70-foot (21 m) cascading waterfall, is about 0.7 mile (1.1 km) from the trailhead. The trail to the falls parallels, but does not cross, the Little Firehole River. Near the falls, the trail climbs a steep series of switchbacks for an excellent view of the top of the falls. To make a loop hike, 0.2 mile - 0.3 km farther with elevation gain/loss 500 feet (152 m), continue on the trail above the switchbacks until it meets the Little Firehole Meadows Trail. At this junction the trail back to Biscuit Basin turns right, descends to an overlook of Old Faithful, and continues downhill to rejoin the Mystic Falls Trail.

23. Fairy Falls
Roundtrip distance - 5 to 6 miles (8 - 9.7 km) depending on route - Difficulty - easy.
Fairy Falls, 200 feet (61 m) high, is one of Yellowstone's most spectacular waterfalls. Fairy Falls may be reached by two routes:
A. The Steel Bridge trailhead is located 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Midway Geyser Basin and 4.7 miles (7.6 km) north of Old Faithful. Follow the road approximately 1 mile (1.6 km). The trail then turns west (left) for 1.6 miles (2.6 km) through burned lodgepole pine forest to the falls.
B. Drive south on Fountain Flat Drive until you reach the barricade. Walk south along the road for approximately 1.0 mile (1.6 km). The trail then turns west (right) and continues 1.6 miles (2.6 km) to the falls. This is a nice hike and trail. You can see fire damage from the 1988 fires that give a great view of the new undergrowth and regeneration of the forest and plant life. On the hike from the Steel Bride, you hike just on the edge of Grand Prismatic pool, it is a beautiful area. Thermal features along the way, Imperial Geyser, Spray Geyser.

Norris Area

24. Monument Geyser Basin
Roundtrip distance - 2 miles (3 km) - Difficulty - strenuous.
Trailhead: West side of Norris-Madison road, 5 miles south of Norris.
Main attraction: 8-ft cylindrical cone geyser, solitude.

25. Artist Paint Pot Trail
Roundtrip distance - .5 mile (.8 km) - Difficulty - easy.
Trailhead: 4.2 miles south of Norris Junction - east side of Gibbon meadow.
Main attraction: Bubbling pools of weird colored water and mud.

26. Norris Geyser Basin
Roundtrip distance - - Difficulty - easy.
Trailhead: Norris Junction.
Main attraction: Boarded walk around thermal features, very cool to see in early morning light.


This map shows the locations for the hikes listed above

Also see the Bechler Area Page for both day and backcountry hiking and camping.

Hiking / Biking Camping in Yellowstone

Camping for bicyclists or front country hikers is limited to the developed campgrounds located throughout the park. Campsites are available by reservation (through AmFac at 307-344-7311), and on a first-come, first serve basis.

The distance separating campgrounds, and the fact that all of the park's campgrounds typically fill early each day during the peak visitation season, will pose logistical problems for the bicycle or hiking camper in Yellowstone. A limited number of campsites are reserved for hikers and bicyclists at all campgrounds with the Exception of Slough Creek Campgrounds. Camping is Not Available at Old Faithful. If you are traveling with a large group of bicyclists or hikers, call AmFac prior to your arrival to check on group campsite availability. Not all campgrounds can accommodate large groups. If you have access to a vehicle, use it to find a campsite in your destination campground early each day.

Bicyclists or hikers camping without a vehicle can use designated hiker/biker sites for $4.00 per individual per night. All other vehicular campsites range from $10.00 to $16.00 per night, depending on the facilities available. The opening and closing dates vary considerably for each campground in the park. Check the Calendar Page and/or Camping Page to make sure that a campground is open if you are planning a spring or fall visit to Yellowstone.


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