By temperament, I am hard-pressed to choose a favorite anything. Ask for my favorite food, color, or book and I’ll give you two. Or maybe three. Sometimes more. So here are not one, two, even three favorite short hikes in Yellowstone. Here are my favorite five, all 2.5 miles or less:
1. Red Rock Point | 1 mile, there and back, ending at the same trailhead: Offering a view of the Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, this trail takes hikers down a shady path through pine, rock, and even ferns to a viewing deck. It’s down and then back up, but it isn’t too taxing. *
2. Trout Lake | 1 mile, partial loop, beginning and ending at the same trailhead: Located a mile and a half from the Pebble Creek Campground on the Northeast Entrance road, this hike begins–and ends–with a short but very steep, switchbacked climb. A mammoth tree sits at the top—a welcome spot to pause for a moment to rest the inevitable flaming quads. Nestled in the woods on the side of a mountain, it gives a view of peaks or trees on every side. The trail continues around the lake. This is our family’s favorite short hike.
3. Wraith Falls | 1 mile there and back, beginning and ending at the same trailhead: This trail is mostly flat with a short climb up some steps and a good view of the waterfall. This trek into the wilderness gives a lot of reward–especially for the young, the weary, or for those wanting to get in just one more hike. Find my friend Joy’s post about Wraith Falls–complete with her lovely photos–here.
4. Natural Bridge | 2.5 miles, partial loop beginning and ending at the same trailhead: Mostly flat with a partial loop, this trail provides a different view on the way out than it does on the way in. Engaging for kids, the destination is an unusual geographical feature, a naturally occurring bridge in the woods. It’s located in the heart of grizzly territory, so be sure to check for warnings and closures at the Fishing Bridge Visitor Education Center. Also important: Natural Bridge is for looking at, not walking on.
5. Monument Geyser Basin | 2 miles there and back, beginning and ending at the same trailhead: A better descriptor would be straight up and down rather than there and back. It’s one mile straight up a switchbacked trail to a backcountry geyser basin and then a mile back down the same trail. Neither direction is easy. While remote and interesting, the geyser basin isn’t the draw. For me, it’s the view of the Firehole River Valley, a vista opened up by the Fires of 1988.
If you’ll be taking short hikes with little ones, check out this post.
*Red Rock Point Trail was damaged during the summer 2022 flooding, as were many other trails. It may take some time for this trail to be accessible. If you are interested in this trail, inquire at one of the Visitor Education Centers–particularly the one at Canyon.
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