YELLOWSTONE RIVER PICNIC AREA TRAIL

Trailhead: 1.25 miles  NE of Tower Junction on the road to the NE Entrance
Distance: 3.7 miles (5.9 km) roundtrip
Level of difficulty: Moderately strenuous
 
A moderate trail which starts at the Yellowstone River Picnic Area and rises up to the eastern lip of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, following the rim of the Canyon until reaching the Specimen Ridge Trail two miles from the picnic area. There are some spectacular views of the Canyon and River from this trail. Watch for ospreys and perhaps the occasional eagle soaring below and for wisps of steam issuing from steam vents near the bottom of the Canyon walls. Note the bright yellow tint of the Canyon walls. And keep a careful lookout for bighorn sheep, which are known to inhabit the area. (Some years ago, I rounded a corner without looking and almost tripped over one which was standing in the trail!)

STORM POINT TRAIL

Trailhead: Pullout at Indian Pond, 3 miles east of Fishing Bridge Visitor Center
Distance: 2 mile (3 km) loop
Level of Difficulty: Easy

A view of Yellowstone Lake from the Storm Point Trail, looking to the southwest. By Bruce Gourley.

 

If you would like to get a good view of Yellowstone Lake off the beaten path, without expending much effort, this could be the trail for you. This easy trail starts at the Indian Pond parking area, meanders through a large open meadow where wildflowers and waterfowl are common (as well as bison), then drops into the tree line until you reach Storm Point. Storm Point is a windy projection of rock that juts out into Yellowstone Lake. The view is great, with Stevenson Island and Mount Sheridan being to the south. Also, there is a marmot colony on Storm Point. The critters are usually easy to spot and are fun to watch, especially for kids. You can go back the way you came, or head west down the sandy shores of Yellowstone Lake, following a trail that leads along the Lake and then into the woods to the west, bringing you back to your starting point after a total of about 4 miles of hiking. WARNING: This area is known for its grizzly activity, and the trail is often closed because of grizzlies. Check at the Lake or Fishing Bridge ranger station before setting out. Make noise as you hike.

ARTIST PAINT POTS TRAIL

Trailhead: 4.4 miles south of Norris on the Norris-Madison road
Distance: about 1 mile roundtrip
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Note: a new trail was cut in 2004, making this trail an even easier hike

This is one of the overlooked yet wonderful very short hikes of Yellowstone. The trail, beginning as a boardwalk,  meanders through a partially burned lodgepole pine forest, climbing slightly in elevation once reaching the thermal area. The thermal area within the short loop at the end of the trail features colorful hot springs and several small geysers. Two mudpots at the top of the hill allow closer access than Fountain Paint Pots.  The mudpots continuously spurt mud into the air and are a favorite of park visitors.

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