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Hiking Our National Parks (1)

I enjoy spending time in our national parks and the park I’ve spent the most time experiencing is Yellowstone.  What a grand place!  The park truly has a pulse and deserves its identification as “Heart of the Continent.”  I’ve hiked over two hundred miles in Yellowstone and though much of it has been in the back country, there are also wonderful day hikes sprinkled throughout.  What follows are a few of my favorite day hikes in Yellowstone National Park.  I begin by mentioning six “boardwalk hikes” in various geyser basins.  All are close to major parking lots and each may range from 1/4 mile to a mile (or so) but you can easily spend a few hours at each, especially around sunrise or dusk.  I very much like to begin or end a day strolling one of these six boardwalks.  Then I mention other hikes, some long some short, beginning in the northwest section of the park and moving clockwise around the grand loop of Yellowstone, ending with a few final photos of my park hiking buddies.  Two useful hiking resources for Yellowstone are “A Rangers Guide to Yellowstone Day Hikes” by Roger & Carol Anderson and “Hiking Yellowstone National Park” by Bill Schneider.Sunrise Upper Geyser Basin – Old Faithful Area, Yellowstone National Park

Bison, Firehole River, Upper Geyser Basin – Old Faithful Area, Yellowstone National Park

Hot springs and Yellowstone Lake – West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Boardwalk – West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Boardwalk – Mud Volcano Area, Yellowstone National Park

Early Morning on the Boardwalk with Bison – Mud Volcano Area, Yellowstone National Park

Perhaps the real jewel of the park – Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Strolling the boardwalk – Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

A little and often ignored delightful basin is Artists’ Paintpots (great for mudpots) just south of  Norris Geyser Basin – Yellowstone National Park

Artists’ Paintpots – Norris Geyser Basin Area, Yellowstone National Park

Boardwalk Mammoth Hot Springs (another great place to stroll early in the morning) – Yellowstone National Park

Canary Spring – Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Beaver Ponds Trail (a fairly gentle and relaxing 5-mile loop beginning and ending near the Liberty Cap rock formation via the main parking lot below the Mammoth Terraces) – Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Beaver Ponds Trail – Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Beaver, Beaver Ponds Trail – Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Sepulcher Mountain Trail (a challenging trail that can be done as a loop or shuttle — if you leave one vehicle at the Glen Creek Trailhead and another at the Mammoth Terraces — it’s a 10-12 mile rather rugged hike that offers spectacular views) – Mammoth Hot Springs Area, Yellowstone National Park

Sepulcher Mountain Trail – Mammoth Hot Springs Area, Yellowstone National Park

Osprey Falls Trail (a 9 mile out and back trail that provides a scenic and up close waterfall experience) – Mammoth Hot Springs Area, Yellowstone National Park

Specimen Ridge-Amethyst Mountain-Lamar River Trail (a challenging nearly twenty mile all day shuttle hike that offers wonderful views of the Lamar Valley) – Tower Area/Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Lamar Valley, Specimen Ridge-Amethyst Mountain-Lamar River Trail – Yellowstone National Park

Lamar River, Specimen Ridge-Amethyst Mountain-Lamar River Trail – Yellowstone National Park

Specimen Ridge Hike (a 2-3 mile out and back trail that climbs a bit in the beginning but provides outstanding viewing of some of Yellowstone’s very special petrified trees) – Tower Area, Yellowstone National Park

Petrified Trees, Specimen Ridge – Tower Area, Yellowstone National Park

Slough Creek Trail (one of my all time favorite trails in the park; though I’ve camped here usually I make this hike a 4 mile out-and-back to the first meadow … great pace to see and hear wildlife early in the morning) – Tower Area, Yellowstone National Park

  Slough Creek Second Meadow, Slough Creek Trail – Tower Area, Yellowstone National Park

Slough Creek, Slough Creek Trail – Tower Area, Yellowstone National Park

Trail up Mt. Washburn from Dunraven Pass (two trails lead to the visitor center atop 10,243’Mt. Washburn, both climb about 3 miles and are rather strenuous but encompass wonderful views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake) – Canyon Area, Yellowstone National Park

Hearty hikers, Mt. Washburn – Canyon Area, Yellowstone National Park

Hiking down Mt. Washburn via Chittenden Road –  Yellowstone National Park

My favorite day hike in the park is the Clear Lake Loop (a rather easy especially scenic 5.5 mile loop that includes a lake, thermal features and the awesome south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone) – Canyon Area, Yellowstone National Park

South rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone along the Clear Lake Loop Trail – Canyon Area, Yellowstone National Park

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River from Artist Point along the Clear Lake Loop Trail – Canyon Area, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone River before it begins its plunge into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, along the Clear Lake Loop Trail – Canyon Area, Yellowstone National Park

Another of my favorite day hikes is the short and especially scenic Storm Point Trail (only 1.5 miles this loop trail provides exceptional views of Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountain Range to its east – Lake Area, Yellowstone National ParkYellowstone Lake and Absaroka Mountains, Storm Point Trail – Lake Area, Yellowstone National Park

Heart Lake Trail is a long day hike, extremely scenic with lots of thermal features along the way (8 miles out and 8 miles back — a very good overnight hike so as to add the splendid trek up Mt. Sheridan) – Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Heart Lake Trail – Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Lookout atop 10,308′ Mt. Sheridan – Lake Area, Yellowstone National Park

Atop Mt. Sheridan with Heart Lake in the background – Lake Area, Yellowstone National Park

Another of my favorite waterfalls is Mystic Falls, about 1 mile behind the Biscuit Basin boardwalk (can be hiked as a 4 mile loop that includes excellent views of the both Biscuit and the Upper Geyser Basins), Mystic Falls Trail – Old Faithful Area, Yellowstone National Park

Upper Geyser Basin Overlook, Mystic Falls Trail – Old Faithful Area, Yellowstone National Park

Hiking buddies Curtis, Steve, Paul & Jim

Hiking buddies Steve, Ed & Peggy

Hiking buddies Susan & Steve

 

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