Camping Gear

Ask Me: The 10 Best Short Hikes in Yellowstone

Posted On June 13, 2016 at 10:11 am by / Comments Off on Ask Me: The 10 Best Short Hikes in Yellowstone

Hi Michael,

I have recently “stumbled” onto your site and have been enjoying it very much. My husband and I are planning a trip to Yellowstone in a few weeks. We’d like to take in a few short hikes. We are both in our late 60s and in decent shape. We spent a few days in Arches this spring and took a few five-mile hikes through the park and enjoyed it thoroughly. What hike could you recommend for us? We are thinking about limiting our hikes to fives miles because of the change in elevation/terrain and weather conditions we may encounter there.

Thank you.

Jeanne
Strafford, N.H.

Hi Jeanne,

Thanks for writing and finding The Big Outside. You are heading to a fantastic park for short walks and hikes. You should read my “Ultimate Family Tour of Yellowstone” for ideas on the best spots to visit and take very short walks while driving through the park, including the Midway Geyser Basin and the park’s largest geyser, Grand Prismatic.

 

Grand Prismatic Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone.

Grand Prismatic Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone.

As for hikes of five miles and under, here are the ones I’d suggest, listed in no particular order.

1. The summit of 8,564-foot Bunsen Peak, about five miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs, overlooks a huge swath of the park, from the Gallatin Range to the west, across the high plateau that comprises much of Yellowstone, to the Beartooth and Absaroka Mountains. The round-trip hike on the Bunsen Peak Trail is four miles.

2. The Lamar River Valley in the park’s northeast corner is a great area for seeing wildlife like bison and elk and occasionally wolves. Hike out and back as far as you want on the Lamar River Trail, which is pretty flat and passes through open terrain with big views.

The Big Outside is proud to partner with these sponsors. Please help support my blog by liking and following my sponsors on Facebook and other social media and telling them you appreciate their support for The Big Outside.

 

 

 

View from near the summit of 10,243-foot Mount Washburn.

View from near the summit of 10,243-foot Mount Washburn.

3. Mount Washburn is 6.2 miles out-and-back from Dunraven Pass on the Grand Loop Road; there’s a shorter, five-mile out-and-back to the summit from a trailhead on a dirt road just north of Washburn, that ascends more than 1,700 feet. The views from 10,243-foot Washburn take in the Tetons, Beartooth and Absaroka Mountains, and the Madison Range. The Indian paintbrush, lupine, and other wildflowers bloom in late July and early August. Hike it in early morning or evening for a good chance of seeing bighorn sheep.

 

Lower Yellowstone Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park.

View of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River from Lookout Point, North Rim Trail.

4. The North Rim Trail along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River (lead photo at top of story) is arguably the park’s most scenic walk, with constant views into the deep canyon, including Lower Yellowstone Falls. (In fact, I put it on my list of the finest national park dayhikes in the country.) Various points of road access allow you to choose a hiking distance, but the entire trail is fairly flat and under four miles. You can also walk across a bridge past Upper Yellowstone Falls to reach the south rim and make it a longer hike by following the South Rim Trail for the views from the other side.

Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.









 

5. The Uncle Tom’s Trail on the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is short—it only descends about 500 feet—but the metal stairs you follow down it lead to a spectacular viewpoint near the base of Lower Yellowstone Falls.

6. The Fairy Falls Trail, in the Midway Geyser Basin, is a flat, slightly more than five-mile round-trip hike to Fairy Falls, passing views of the park’s biggest and most colorful geyser, Grand Prismatic Geyser.

7. The Lone Star Geyser Trail, which begins near Kepler Cascades, just south of Old Faithful, is an almost five-mile round-trip hike to Lone Star Geyser, which is several feet tall and erupts about every three hours. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and give yourself time to sit and wait for the geyser to blow.

 

Old Faithful, Upper Geyser Basin.

Old Faithful, Upper Geyser Basin.

8. The Upper Geyser Basin is home to the world’s largest concentration of geysers, hundreds of them, including Old Faithful. You can walk the almost flat trail and boardwalk for several miles from Geyser Hill to Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin, or take a shorter tour. Get a map and guide to the Upper Geyser Basin and take time to explore it. You don’t want to miss this area.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone.

9. Mammoth Hot Springs, multi-hued travertine terraces formed by thermal waters rising through limestone, is unquestionably one of the most inspiring areas of the park. Water constantly pools and trickles down the terraces and steam billows from them. Boardwalks weave through the lower terraces and a one-way loop road through the upper terraces. Plan to explore this area for an hour or more of leisurely walking for the dramatic light of early morning.

10. The Blacktail Creek Trail, which begins about 6.7 miles east of Mammoth on the Grand Loop Road, winds north across gently rolling grasslands and meadows with long views of partly forested hills and a good chance of seeing a bison herd. The trail drops more than 1,000 feet in 3.7 miles to the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River, where, for a longer outing, you can hike either upriver or downriver along a trail through conifer forest, with views of the cliffs rising above the meandering river. But the first few miles of the Blacktail Creek Trail are fairly easy, before it begins descending more steeply into the canyon, and you can turn back at any point.

See all of my stories about Yellowstone National Park, and all of my stories about national park adventures at The Big Outside.

Good luck, thanks for writing.

Best,
Michael

In Ask Me, I share my response to a reader question. Got a question about hiking, backpacking, gear, or any topic or trip I write about at The Big Outside? Send it to me at mlanza@thebigoutside.com, message me at http://ift.tt/1jKgtqo, or tweet it to @MichaelALanza. I will answer the ones I can in a blog post, using only your first name and city, with your permission. I now receive more questions than I can answer, so I ask that readers sending me a question be willing to make a minimum $25 donation to this website through my Support button for the time and expertise I put into a response. I will also provide a telephone consult for a minimum $45 donation. Write to me first and I will tell you whether I can answer your question (I usually can); I will respond as quickly as I can. First scroll through my Ask Me page and All Trips pagesskills stories, and gear reviews for answers to your questions before writing to me.

—Michael Lanza

 

from The Big Outside http://ift.tt/28wtJnm

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On Youtube