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10 Best Hikes in Yellowstone: Distance, Maps, Features, Difficulty

Whether you’re camping or just on a day trip, there are many amazing hikes in Yellowstone. Which ones should you start with? And what can

The best hikes in Yellowstone include Lone Star Geyser Trail, Duck Lake Trail, Electric Peak, Natural Bridge Trail, Avalanche Peak, Harlequin Lake Trail, and Howard Eaton Trail (where you can see Old Faithful). The required skill level varies. Here are all the details, with maps.

best hikes in yellowstone

This post is part of our Yellowstone Visitor Guide. Learn more about Yellowstone camping and When to Visit Yellowstone.

10 Best Yellowstone Hikes

It can take hours to follow the Grand Loop around Yellowstone. During the busy tourist season, it can take even longer to visit some of your favorite spots.

Yellowstone hiking trails give you an excuse to get out of the car and stretch your legs.

To help you decide which trails are right for your family or group, I noted (on the following list) which trails are easy and which are more challenging.

This guidebook covers a total of 46 hikes for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Easy trails are often accessible and either paved or clear, while moderate and hard trails are much rougher. You’ll find dozens of hiking trails and trails for horseback riding and biking in Yellowstone.

1. Lone Star Geyser Trail

  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Features: Wheelchair accessible, paved sections, logbook to share your experiences
  • What you’ll see: Lone Star Geyser

The Lone Star Geyser Trail is one of the easiest trails you’ll find in Yellowstone. It’s wheelchair accessible and has paved areas that help you easily get over rougher spots.

The National Park Service has a guidebook on display where you can write down your experiences and read what others shared. This trail takes you right up to the Lone Star Geyser.

2. Duck Lake Trail

  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Features: Close to parking lot
  • What you’ll see: Views of the areas damaged by wildfires in 1988, West Thumb Geyser Basin

Located in the western region of the park, the Duck Lake Trail has a trailhead located in the West Thumb Geyser Basin parking lot.

That parking lot can accommodate both cars and trucks as well as some campers. The trail moves through the basin and lets you see how the area rebounded after the wildfires that occurred in 1988.

3. Electric Peak

  • Distance: 20.6 miles
  • Skill level: Hard
  • Features: Rocky areas, rough terrain, dangerous terrain
  • What you’ll see: Wild animals, gorgeous views

Backcountry Yellowstone camping enthusiasts often pick Electric Peak as their favorite trail, though it’s also one of the most challenging hiking trails in the park.

You’ll enter at the Glen Creek Trailhead and hike towards the Peak. It takes even the most experienced of hikers up to nine hours to complete the trail. You should make sure that you bring food and water and any camping gear you need if you plan on spending the night.

4. Natural Bridge Trail

  • Distance: 0.7 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate
  • Features: Wet rocks, some challenging areas, parking lot trail head
  • What you’ll see: Natural Bridge, spawning fish, wild animals

Though the Natural Bridge Trail is only 0.7 miles long, it’s more challenging than you might think.

As the water rushes up and over the rocks, the trail can become so slippery that you have a hard time planting your feet.

When the spawning season begins, Yellowstone shuts down the trail because bears come down from the mountains to eat those fish. You can access the bike trail to the Natural Bridge from the Grand Loop marina.

5. Avalanche Peak

  • Distance: 4.2 miles
  • Skill level: Hard
  • Features: Very rough terrain, hard for some hikers
  • What you’ll see: Views that extend out and over the trees, some wild animals

As one of the more challenging hiking trails in Yellowstone, Avalanche Peak is definitely not for beginners.

This 4.2-mile trail is really only accessible in the middle of summer. If you go up in June or earlier, you’ll likely run across a few bears and other dangerous animals.

Those who hike the trail in September and later in the year run the risk of coming across snow.

6. Mount Washburn Spur Trail

  • Distance: 16.2 miles
  • Skill level: Hard
  • Features: One entrance/exit, connects Mount Washburn to other trail heads and parts of the park
  • What you’ll see: Glacier Boulder, Mount Washburn, wildflowers, some animals

It can take up to 10 hours to complete the Mount Washburn Trail, even if you head out on a nice day and have a lot of hiking experience.

This trail is challenging because it does not have any places where you can stop for water and hikers often spot grizzly bears along the path. You can hop on the trail at the trailhead on Glacier Boulder. The trail follows a set path and brings you back to your starting point.

More reading: What do Bears Eat? Diet of all 8 Species

7. Hellroaring Trail

  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Skill level: Hard
  • Features: Steep starting point, fishing spots
  • What you’ll see: Sage fields, wooded areas, Hellroaring Creek, Yellowstone River Suspension Bridge

With a name like Hellroaring, you might think that this is the scariest hiking trail in Yellowstone.

The name actually comes from a creek of the same name, which got its name from the loud noises produced as the water moves.

This is the best trail for those who love fishing because of the various places where they can stop and fish along the way.

It gives you access to the Yellowstone River Suspension Bridge and is one of the park’s quietest trails.

Yellowstone hiking

8. Bunsen Peak

  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate
  • Features: Some rough terrain, grassy and hilly areas
  • What you’ll see: Panoramic views, Cathedral Rock, geological attractions

If you remember using Bunsen burners in high school science class, you know the man the park named this trail after.

Bunsen Peak covers more than four miles and is the best way to get to Cathedral Rock.

When you reach the highest point on the trail, you’ll see some of the best panoramic views in the park, which look over the areas damaged during past wildfires. Some of the paths have quite a bit of grass and can be hard to see.

9. Harlequin Lake Trail

  • Distance: Less than one mile
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Features: Clear trail that anyone can follow, soft hill, easy to follow
  • What you’ll see: Harlequin Lake, some wooded areas, a few animals

Not everyone can spend hours hiking through Yellowstone, but no matter how much time you have, you can easily complete the Harlequin Lake Trail.

It measures less than one mile and begins at the Madison Road Junction, which you can find via the West Entrance Road. This trail moves uphill towards the lake and lets you come down the same hill at the end.

Even if you stop to take photos of the lake, you can complete the entire trail in just one hour.

10. Howard Eaton Trail

  • Distance: 6.3 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate
  • Features: Trailhead marker, same start/stop spot, open in the winter, summer and fall
  • What you’ll see: Old Faithful, wooded areas, wild animals, plants

One of the top trails for hikers who want to get close to Old Faithful is the Howard Eaton Trail, which covers more than six miles.

It has a trailhead south of that geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin area. This trail uses a circular design that winds around Old Faithful and then brings you back to where you started.

You should keep an eye out for orange markers hanging on trees and located on signs stuck in the ground. Those markers let you know that you’re on the right path.

If you’re doing some camping, you’ll want to keep the bears away.

Yellowstone hikes

Your Turn

Have you hiked any of these Yellowtone trails? Which ones are on your bucket list?