With its 2.2 million acres, Yellowstone National Park provides spectacular and mostly untouched scenery for hiking. This park was the first national park and its width embraces three states, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, where you can explore hiking trails and admire unique flora, fauna, thermal features, breathtaking canyons, rushing waters and waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, rivers, and streams. Visitors can choose from one of the many spectacular Yellowstone hikes offered by local service providers, or trek into the park’s backcountry. But be always prepared for possible wildlife encounters and dramatic weather changes.
Notable Yellowstone Hikes
Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s most notable wilderness hiking areas, available throughout the year. More than 1.2 miles of hiking trails are available for visitors.
Hiking in Old Faithful Area
Some of the most breathtaking experiences can be found in the Old Faithful area, where you can watch the thermal wonders of geysers, hot srpings, lush meadows and amazing mountains.
Fairy Falls Hike
The length of this trail is about 5 miles and it leads to one of the best Yellowstone’s waterfalls – Fairy Falls. There are two different trailheads to this location. The first trailhead begins at the Steel Bridge on the Firehole River, no more than 5 miles north of Old Faithful. The second trail follows the hiking path to the junction with Fairy Falls trail.
Every 5-10 minutes, the Anemone geyser is an amazing experience to watch. The length of this trailhead is about 1.3 miles and can be found in front of Old Faithful visitor center. If you are a more adventurous visitor, go up to the Observation Point to watch the Upper Geyser Basin.
Mallard Lake Trail
This is one of the favorite trails, which heads through a pine forest, meadows and rocky slopes up to the Mallard Lake. Its length is about 7 miles.
Black Sand Trail
This trail is 0.5 mile north of the Old Faithful area and is easily accessed by short boardwalks, where you can wath Sunset Lake, Sapphire and Emerald Pools, and Jewel Geyser.
Madison Area Hikes
Check out these Madison area hikes to get great views of Yellowstone’s wildlife and have a wonderful hiking experience.
Two Ribbons Trail
This broadwalk trail heads through burned pine forest near the Madison River. The Two Ribbons Trail is located about 5 miles east from the West Entrance.
Leading through a burned lodgepole pine forest, this trail ends with an amazing view of the Firehole and Gibbon Valleys. You can also view parts of the Madison Junction area. The Purple Mountain trail is located ¼ miles north of Madison Junction close to Madison Campground. Its level of difficulty is moderate and you will climb up about 1,500 feet.
Canyon Area Hikes
There are plenty of great trails to choose from for a hike in the Canyon area of Yellowstone National Park. By following these trails you will see some great panoramic views of wildlife scenery and well-known geothermal features of the park.
There are two trailheads: one is Cascade Lake picnic area about 1.5 miles north of Canyon Junction and another trail is ¼ mile west of Canyon on the Norris-Canyon road. The difficulty level of this Yellowstone tour is strenuous, requiring some efforts to climb 3 miles to a high mountain peak. Note that no water is available along the trail, so take provisions from home.
Mary Mountain Trail
This trail is moderately stenuous and you will have to climbs Mary Mountain to get to the park’s Central Plateau, which is located north of Alum Creek pullout between Madison and Old Faithful. This place is perfect for watching elk and bison.
Cascade Lake Trail
This easy hike through meadows and over creeks heads to the Cascade Lake picnic area. Situated 1.5 miles north of Canyon Junction, it offers great opportunities to view wildlife and wildflowers, and have an unforgettable Yellowstone vacation in the wildlife surroundings.
Seven Mile Hole Trail
This is a very strenuous 6-hour hike with its trailhead to Glacial Boulder on the Inspiration Point road. You will follow the Canyon Rim and see breathtaking views of Silver Cord Cascade and Seven Mile Hole. Be cautious when passing active hot spings.
Mammoth Area Hikes
There are plenty of great trails and multiple wildlife viewing opportunities to choose from when hiking in the Mammoth area of Yellowstone National Park.
Lava Creek Trail
The Lava Creek trail leads past Unine Falls and up to the Gardner River. The difficulty level of this trail is moderate and it’s 3.5 miles one way.
Osprey Falls Trail
The Osprey Falls Trail is about 5 miles south of Mammoth and is considered to be a rather difficult hike. You will go 2.5 miles through meadows and burnt pine forest and up to the Sheepeater Canyon rim, where the Gardner River forms Osprey Falls plunging 150 feet.
Beaver Ponds Trail
The Beaver Ponds trail heads through pine forest to beaver ponds.This trail presents wonderful opportunities for wildlife viewing, where you can watch for elk, moose, deer, beaver dams and lodges.
The Wraith Falls hike is short and easy and goes through sagebrush and fir forest to Wraith Falls located on Lupine Creek.
Most Tower-Roosevelt area hikes are moderately strenuous, but the breathtaking views and wildlife scenery make it all worthwhile.
Lost Lake Trail
The Lost Lake trail leads about 4 miles to a Roosevelt horse trail, and then continues west to the Lost Lake. From here, the trail leads to the Petrified Tree area, where you can enjoy scenic views of waterfowls, wildflowers, sometimes bears and horses.
Mt. Washburn Trail
Mt. Washburn hike is rather popular and has two trails leading to Chittendend Road parking area or Dunraven Pass parking area. Situated about 14 miles south of Tower Junction, the trail offers amazing views of Yellowstone National Park. In the summer, you can see bighorn sheep on the upper trails.
Yellowstone River Picnic Area Trail
This trail offers views of the Narrows of the Yellowstone, Overhanging Cliff area, basalt columns, towers, and the historic Bannock Indian Ford. The trail leads to Yellowstone River Picnic Area, 1.25 miles northeast of Tower Junstion. Here you can enjoy the wildlife views, including bighorn sheep.
Lake Village Hikes
If you are nature lover and like adventures, then Lake Village hiking is right what you need.
Pelican Creek Trail
The Pelican Creek hike is rather short and easy, but offers great and adventurous opportunities. The trail heads to the west enf of Pelican Creek Bridghe and is about 1 mile east from the visitor center at Fishing Bridge.
Elephant Back Mountain Trail
This trail is moderately strenuous and will require you to climb up 800 feet through a dense lodgepole pine forest, where you are presented with wonderful panoramic views of Yellowstone Lake and the wildlife area surrounding the lake.
Natural Bridge Trail
The Natural Bridge trail heads to Bridge Bay Marina parking lot, located not far from the campground entrance road. The Natural Bridge is a 51 feet high cliff cut in the Bridge Creek. The trail leads through the forest, then joins the road, and continues to the west before reaching the Natural Bridge. The top of the bridge is closed for hiking, but you can have great views next to the bridge.
Avalanche Peak Trail
The Avalanche Peak trail is rather strenuous and heads to the west end of Eleanor Lake to the east of the small creek. At the bowl of Avalanche Peak you will see some of the best panoramic views of Yellowstone. Be aware that in the fall, you can encounter grizzly bears, so be very cautious at that time.
To avoid most of the possible problems hiking at Yellowstone National Park, consider hiring some of the experienced guides and visit outfitters to have a safe and enjoyable Yellowstone tour and hiking experience in the park.