Mammoth Area Trails

Beaver Ponds Loop Trail ★—Start at Clematis Gulch and hike through sage-filled meadows and Douglas fir/aspen forest to a series of beaver ponds. Your best chance of seeing the big-tailed beasts is early morning or late afternoon, and you might spot a moose, pronghorn, or elk on the way. There are also some good views, including of Mount Everts.

5 miles round-trip. Moderate. Access: Trailhead is located at Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace.

Bunsen Peak Trail ★★—Climb an 8,564-foot mountain to big views of the Absaroka Range to the northeast and 10,969-foot Electric Peak to the north on this moderate outing. You’ll switchback 1,300 feet up the peak’s northwest ridge, gaining better vistas with each step, before reaching the summit. Continue down the other side of the peak toward Sheepeater Cliffs, then loop back to the trailhead on Bunsen Peak Road. Tack on the 2.4-mile (round-trip) out-and-back spur trail that picks up near the road junction to see Osprey Falls. Take the steep, rocky trail into Sheepeater Canyon to see the multitiered waterfall dropping 150 feet into the Gardner River. 

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4.6 miles round-trip. Moderate. Access: Trailhead is across the road from the Glen Creek Trailhead, 5 miles south of Mammoth.

Sepulcher Mountain Trail ★★—There are several ways to approach this broad-sided, 9,652-foot peak just west of Mammoth Hot Springs, but the top route begins on the Sepulcher Mountain Trail at Mammoth, ascends the summit, loops back on the Glen Creek Trail, and crosses Snow Pass to return to the trailhead. Hike west across an old burn area now strewn with wildflowers in summer, then begin gaining for a total of 3,400 feet. You’ll get views across the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and Gallatin National Forest, and down into Mammoth and Gardiner. A 360-degree panorama opens at the summit. Switchback your way down the peak’s southeast ridge and swing east to approach Snow Pass and your route back to the trailhead. Look out for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats—and grizzlies. This is a favorite habitat for bears, so be loud and hike in a group.

11-mile loop. Moderate to difficult. Access: Sepulcher Mountain Trailhead at Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace.

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Tower-Roosevelt Area

Hellroaring Trail ★—An ideal early-season hike because the snow melts here sooner than in other areas, the Hellroaring Trail drops you down to a sage-filled plateau where bison often gather. Traipse across the open field to reach an impressive suspension bridge that spans a steep, roiling section of the Yellowstone River. (The bridge also makes a good turnaround point if you’re looking for a shorter hike.) Continue to the banks of Hellroaring Creek and trace it to its confluence with the Yellowstone (both waterways are great for fishing). The trail goes on much farther into the backcountry, but turn around here for a manageable day hike.

6.2 miles round-trip. Moderate to difficult. Access: Trailhead is 3 1/2 miles west of Tower Junction.

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Petrified Trees of Specimen Ridge ★★—This shuttle hike packs a whole lotta geologic marvels into a few beautiful miles: petrified trees, basalt columns, and plunging canyon cliffs, to name a few. Start by dropping a car or bike at the Yellowstone River Picnic Area, then proceed to the trailhead for the unnamed but official trail (not to be confused with the Specimen Ridge Trail). From here, you’ll climb steeply to excellent views over the Lamar Valley and Absarokas until you reach a rocky outcrop with fossilized, 50-million-year-old sequoias, firs, and other trees. Take care in this area, as it’s steep, and resist the temptation to take a fossil home—not only does that damage the precious resource, it’s also illegal. Continue west across a sage-filled meadow on the Specimen Ridge Trail (it’s faint up here) to the east rim of a narrow canyon on the Yellowstone River; trace the rim northwest on the Yellowstone River Picnic Trail, looking out for ospreys, peregrine falcons, bighorn sheep, and the distinctive volcanic basalt columns across the river. The trail will take you back down to the picnic area.

6-mile shuttle. Difficult. Access: Trailhead is 4 1/2 miles east of Tower Junction, in a striped pullout marked “trailhead.” Ending trailhead is Yellowstone River Picnic Area, 1 1/4 miles east of Tower Junction.

Lamar Valley Area

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Slough Creek Trail ★★—Anglers and wildlife-watchers, this one’s for you. Pretty Slough Creek is revered for its cutthroat trout fishing, and bears, moose, and bison are frequently spotted in the meadows along its banks. For a day-sized chunk, follow the Slough Creek Trail up a short, steep section of Douglas firs, then descend to First Meadow. This grassy expanse features rocky outcroppings, peak views, and easy access to fishing holes. Extending your hike along the creek to Second Meadow adds another 5.2 miles round-trip.

3.4 miles round-trip. Easy to moderate. Access: Trailhead is on the dirt road to Slough Creek Campground; park where the road curves left. 

Trout Lake Trail ★—A short, somewhat steep hike through spruces and firs, this trail’s destination is small Trout Lake, which is encircled by a footpath. The lake, nestled between dramatic cliffs and Druid and Barronette Peaks, is a favorite fishing hole and one of the best places in the park to witness the fascinating cutthroat spawn. Because of the density of the fish, the lake once served as a major source of food for Cooke City and still attracts otters, beavers, and bears.

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1.3 miles round-trip. Easy. Access: 10 miles west of the northeast entrance, at the trailhead 1 mile west of Pebble Creek campground.

Upper Pebble Creek ★★—The lesser-traveled region off the Northeast Entrance Road holds some of the most dramatic scenery in the park, including this gorgeous ramble in a remote valley. Even better, abundant wildflowers decorate the meadows in July. The first mile climbs fairly steeply to views of the cliffs along Soda Butte Creek and the area’s imposing stone buttes, then flattens to an easy meadow stroll. Turn around at the first backcountry campsite along Pebble Creek, where you’ll spy still more giant summits. Alternately, you can park a shuttle car at the Pebble Creek Trailhead and hike all the way there for a 12-mile day.

4 miles round-trip. Moderate. Access: Warm Springs Trailhead is 8 miles east of Pebble Creek Campground.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.