For 3,500 square miles of wilderness, there are a lot of hiking trails to choose from in Yellowstone National Park. You can take your pick from one of five entrances and sample an array of natural beauty.
This includes deep, lush forests to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River, as well as beautiful lakes, geysers, and active hot springs.
If you are heading to Yellowstone, you should take your time selecting the best hiking trail. Some can be completed in a couple of hours, others can take a couple of days.
Best Hikes In Yellowstone
Avalanche Peak Trail
Total Length: 4 miles
Ideal Time Of The Year: July to August
You should be able to find a trailhead sign for Avalanche Peak near Eleanor Peak which is between the East Entrance and Fishing Bridge.
From there, the trail begins on the north side of the road and takes you through burned areas of old forest up to the summit of Avalanche Peak. This is a tricky hike that will amount to climbing 2,100 feet in about two miles which is understandably quite steep.
At the 10,566-foot summit, you can revel in the stunning views over the Grand Tetons in the distance and Mount Sheridan. You should also be able to see the Absaroka-Beartooth mountains lying at the east, then Yellowstone Lake at your southwest.
Due to the height of the summit, you can expect to see some snow at most times of the year. Proof, if you needed it, of how high you have climbed in such a demanding hike.
Beaver Ponds Trail
Total length: 5.4 miles
Ideal Time Of The Year: May to October
If Avalanche Peak is deemed too difficult then here is a hiking trail fit for families. Beaver Ponds is a looped trail that starts and ends at Mammoth Hot Springs at the North entrance.
The trailhead can be found north of Liberty Cap and to the rear of Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel which is where Old Gardiner Road begins. Though steep at the beginning, once you have conquered those slopes the trail soon flattens out.
At the halfway point you should reach the beaver ponds that give the trail its name. You should be able to enjoy them in some serenity too as the route tends to be quiet.
That means more of a chance to see some natural wildlife including moose, elks, and of course beavers. There is also the added bonus of a downhill finish which is always welcome.
Sky Rim Trail
Total Length: 19 miles
Ideal Time Of The Year: July to September
This one may be truly pushing it for a day trail, so you are best getting up early. A full 19 miles can seem daunting so you will need all the time you can get. You may even want to bring some camping gear and set aside a second or even third day.
This trail begins and ends at the Dailey Creek trailhead and goes through alpine meadows and lodgepole pine forests.
Then the trail begins to climb up the ridge where you traverse the border between Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone National Park itself. As you keep climbing, you will be eventually rewarded with views of some picturesque peaks.
These include Fortress Mountain, Ramshorn Peak, Lone Indian Peak which lies to the north, then Sawtooth Mountain and Canary Bird Peak to the east.
You may be advised to tackle Big Horn Peak after a relaxing night’s camping. The climb is well worth it as at 3000m you can take in the beauty of some more stunning views. What comes up, must go down and you will follow Black Butte Trail until going along Black Butte Creek then returning to Dailey Creek.
Lamar River To Cache Creek Trail
Total Length: 7 miles
Ideal Time Of The Year: March to June
If you want to sample some wildlife then the Lamar Valley is one of the best places to go. Yellowstone became the first national park back in 1872 and has a wide variety of wildlife amongst its 2.2 million acres.
Look up and you may see eagles or ospreys roaming the skies. You could also find bears, elk, beavers, and some Yellowstone wolves who were reintroduced into the wild in 1995.
The trail begins at Soda Butte trailhead and takes in some rolling hills and easy-going meadows which may even include grazing bison.
Next up, you will go through a valley that runs between Amethyst Mountain and Mt. Norris before crossing some spring streams. Once you have gone over the base of Mt. Norris there lies the junction for Cache Creek Trail.
Cache Creek is an ideal spot to take some time out. You may have even brought your rod to do some fishing, or simply want to watch the scenery.
Past Mt. Norris the scenery deepens to include more mountainous terrain and woodland. After you have spent some time going further upstream up the creek you can simply follow the route back.
Best Hikes In Yellowstone – Final Thoughts
Do remember that Yellowstone National Park is a remarkably wild area. Ensuring that you have the right gear before you set off is essential for your own safety and the enjoyment of your hike. Try not to rely on phone signals so pack the right maps and a compass to ensure you can complete the hike in good time without getting lost.
The weather conditions can also be demanding so take plenty of water to remain hydrated. And do not forget the bear spray.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Good Is Yellowstone National Park For Hiking?
There are over 900 miles of hiking trails going through the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. That includes stunning mountain views, natural wildlife, and awe-inspiring geothermal sights.
Even on a day trip, you can take in a geyser or a deep canyon. If you cannot enjoy Yellowstone National Park when hiking then maybe hiking is not for you.
What Hiking Gear Should I Take With Me For A Hike In Yellowstone National Park?
Aside from the essentials including your best pair of hiking boots, a moisture-wicking shirt, and a jacket, there are a few other items you should consider. This includes bear spray as the national park does include some dangerous wildlife to be wary of.
You should also take a wide-brimmed hat to keep your heat relatively cool. A pair of binoculars would also be recommended if you wanted to spot some birds from a considerable distance.