Jun 28

Staff Members’ Favorite Hikes

With over 1,000 miles of trails in Yellowstone, you could take a different hike each day of every visit. But Yellowstone Forever staff members have some favorite trails they like to return to again and again. Read more about our favorites below and find out how to join us on the trails on one of our many Naturalist Day Hikes throughout the summer season.

Family Friendly Pick #1

Storm Point

Easy — 2.3 miles

“This family friendly hike allows you to experience a wide breadth of landscapes in one short romp, starting at a picturesque open meadow, transitioning to a walk through an enchanting lodgepole pine forest, and culminating in stunning shoreside views of Yellowstone Lake. Be weary of bison and bears near the trail, look for the adorable marmot colony at the scenic rocky overlook, and please stay on the trail to protect the last known population of one of Yellowstone’s endemic plants, the Yellowstone Sand Verbena, which lives in the sands near small thermal features along Yellowstone Lake. This is a perfect trail to get you to immerse yourself in Yellowstone’s beauty even if you have just a small stretch of time, but if you have even less time than that, try the nearby 0.8-mile Pelican Creek Nature Trail instead.” — Amanda Evans, Lead Field Educator, YF Institute

Family Friendly Pick #2

Yellowstone River Picnic Area Trail

Easy – 2 miles (one way)

“I love this short, easy trail on an early spring day when my kids and I want to head outdoors but a lot of the park is still covered in snow. As long as the weather cooperates, you’ll get spectacular views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the mountains of the Northern Range. I’ve also seen everything from bighorn sheep to pronghorn to marmots on this trail—so much fun for the whole family!” — Wendie Carr, Chief Marketing Officer

Photographer’s Pick

Avalanche Peak

Strenuous – 4.2 miles round-trip

“In a fairly short hike, you can get spectacular views of the Absaroka Mountain Range and Yellowstone Lake. I don’t know of any hike like that in the park with that distance and that kind of payoff. Because of weather, this Lake-area trail is really only accessible from about late June to mid-October. I can’t do this hike enough!” — Matt Ludin, Digital Media Specialist

Anglers’s Pick

Slough Creek Trail

Easy to Moderate – 1.7 to 1st Meadow/4.3 miles to 2nd Meadow/5 miles to 3rd meadow (one-way)

“The trail in the Lamar Valley takes you up a historic wagon road that was used by early homesteaders, and into beautiful high elevation meadows. Many go to fish for pure Yellowstone cutthroat trout, but the meadows are a great area to view wildflowers. The first mile of the trail is made up of moderately uphill switchbacks. Don’t forget to turn around to see a large panoramic view to the west. The rest of the trail is mostly flat and wide open, with a couple of small rolling hills. Best time for wildflower viewing is June, July, and August.”  — Kim Yablonski, Strategic Communications Manager

Waterfall Pick

Bechler Meadows Trail to Dunanda Falls

Easy to Moderate – 9 miles one-way to falls

“In the park’s Bechler Region (southwest corner), this hike is either a long out and back or an overnight. Travel through Bechler Meadows and just over a ridge you’ll come upon this impressive, 150-foot-high waterfall. There are hot springs nearly under the falls where you can soak your feet and enjoy the mist. I like to do the overnight so there is plenty of time to enjoy the falls. Go in early fall to avoid the bugs.” — Caroline Jones, Donor Relations and Experiences Manager


Specimen Ridge Day Hike

Strenuous – 3 miles round-trip

“For a different perspective of Lamar Valley, I highly recommend this hike! It’s a vigorous uphill climb, but the breathtaking view of Lamar Valley is more than worth it. My favorite time to hike it is late June, because bitterroot flowers are in full bloom and cover the top of the ridge.” — Katie Roloson, Director of Fleet & Field Campuses

Bucket List Pick

Electric Peak

Strenuous – 9.5 miles to summit

“My favorite hikes in the park are in the alpine zone where the mountain goats roam. That’s why the 10,969-foot Electric Peak, on the northern border of the park, certainly gets my vote! Your quads will remember the journey to Electric Peak several days after the ascent, as this hike requires nearly 20 miles and 4,100 feet of elevation gain to reach the rocky summit. A small amount of scrambling and route finding are necessary to reach the summit, but confident hikers should have little trouble following the cairns that lead the way through the jagged ridgeline. Unobstructed panoramic views are offered at the top, including views of the Grand Tetons to the south!” — Grace Hucek, Senior Business Analyst


Trout Lake

Easy to Moderate: One mile (round trip)

“I love this quick hike in the Northern Range for its beautiful scenery. Don’t be fooled by the short distance, because it comes with pretty decent elevation gain—so it’s still good exercise. The lake often has great fishing, and you might also spot a number of water-loving birds swimming along the surface.” — Olesja Hoppe, Regional Director of Philanthropy


Mammoth Hot Spring Terrace Trails

Easy – 1 mile round-trip

“Though it is not the most strenuous of hikes, I always enjoy a quiet stroll on the boardwalks at the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces. If you go in different seasons and times of day, it will be a new experience every time. A favorite is getting to the Upper Terraces near Canary Spring on a clear and cold winter morning to watch the sun burst through the trees and steam. Breathtaking!” — Elle Winchester, Director of Annual Giving & Donor Engagement


Lost Lake Loop

Easy to Moderate – 2.8 miles

“This trail has a little bit of everything. It’s close to Roosevelt Lodge, so it’s perfect for visitors staying in the cabins. You’ll get to see wildflowers in the summer, sagebrush hilltops, great views of the Buffalo Plateau, and of course Lost Lake—which is often covered in a sea of lily pads. Black bears sometimes frequent the area, so it’s a good idea to hike in groups and bring the bear spray!” — Katy Fast, Education Coordinator

Mountain Peak Pick

Mount Sepulcher

Strenuous – 11.2 miles round-trip

“The trails around Mammoth are some of my favorites. Mature Douglas Fir forests make for great bird and bear habitat, while open understories provide plenty of light for an abundance of wildflowers. Sepulcher offers ample opportunities to appreciate this ecosystem, as well as a variety of others, as the trail follows Glen Creek and a broad meadow to reach the alpine zone atop the 9600’ peak. The summit overlooks Gardiner, the northern range, and much of the park with views from the Tetons to the Beartooths on clear days.” — Sam Archibald, Lead Field Educator, YF Institute

Wow Factor Pick

The South Rim Trail

Moderate – 3 miles round-trip

“One of my favorite hikes is the South Rim Trail of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It’s not a terribly difficult hike since you’re traversing along the rim of the canyon, but the rewards are spectacular. You’ll get to see a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, both the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, and even lesser-known Crystal Creek Falls.”— Alison Becker, Institute Operations Manager

For a comprehensive list of day hikes in Yellowstone, see NPS’s hiking guide. Remember to follow the best practices for hiking in bear country: be alert, make noise, hike in groups, do not run, carry bear spray and know how to use it. Be sure to familiarize yourself with Yellowstone’s backcountry guidelines, especially before heading out on overnight adventures.