SOLFATARA CREEK TRAIL

Trailhead #1: Loop C in Norris Campground
Trailhead #2: approx. 3/4 mile south of Beaver Lake Picnic Area
Distance: About 13 miles round trip
Level of Difficulty: Easy to moderate; highest climb is about 400 feet

Beginning in the Norris Campground, the trail traverses lodgepole pine forest as it follows Solfatara Creek for a short distance to the junction with Ice Lake Trail, then parallels a power line for most of the way to Whiterock Springs. It climbs a short distance up to Lake of the Woods, passing Amphitheater Springs and Lemonade Creek, two small thermal areas, before reaching the main road. Unless you planned ahead and have a car awaiting you in the parking area, you’ll have to turn around and retrace your steps to Norris Campground, or hitch a ride on the road.

MONUMENT GEYSER BASIN TRAIL

Trailhead: 5 miles south of Norris Junction on the Norris-Madison road, just after Gibbon River Bridge
Distance: 2 miles (3 km)
Level of Difficulty: Difficult (don’t be fooled by the initial easy going)

This is a short but steep hike which is rated as difficult. Sometimes a walking stick left by previous visitors can be found at the trail registry box. If it is there, be certain to borrow it if you don’t already have one with you. After following the west bank of the Gibbon River for about 2/10ths of a mile, the trail begins to abruptly climb upward, climbing some 500 feet in about 7/10ths of a mile through a series of switchbacks. The trail affords a great view of Elk Park meadow and the wandering Gibbon River. Traversing mainly through lodgepole pine forest, the trail leads to Monument Geyser Basin, a small geyser basin which features mud pots, steam vents, sulpher pool, and some interestingly shaped cones. The basin is named after a slender, 8-foot tall cone which has the appearance of a monument. Experts are in disagreement as to whether or not the cone is a geyser. Nonetheless, this unusual cone currently emits steam through it’s narrow opening.

GRIZZLY LAKE TRAIL

Trailhead: 1 mile (1 km) south of Beaver Lake on the Mammoth-Norris road
Distance: 4 miles (6 km) roundtrip
Level of difficulty: Moderate with some short, steep climbs and rolling terrain.
Note: A log jam crossing is required to continue past Grizzly Lake.

This trail traverses through an area that not only was burned in the fires of 1988, but also in a 1976 fire. Starting out in a meadow, the trail then climbs 250 feet up a ridge. The trail then travels through burned forest and along a meadow in which elk can sometimes be spotted. Wildflowers can be seen along the trail in early summer. The trail also has a reputation of harboring a large mosquito population in the early summer. The route offers great views of Mount Holmes and the Gallatin Range, thanks largely to the 1988 fires. After arriving at a ridge above Grizzly Lake, the trail drops 300 feet to the shore of the Lake. From on top, the Lake is an eerie sight, as it is totally surrounded by burned trees.

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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