Ten Yellowstone Backcountry Dayhikes
Heart Lake Trail
A long (16 miles), but doable dayhike with gradual elevation gains and some nice thermal features. Start at the trailhead 5 miles south of Grant Village. Walk through ghostly lodgepole forests burned during the fires of '88, gaining elevation gradually for 5.5 miles, to the thermal features across from Factory Hill and nice views overlooking Heart Lake.
Descend to a meadow full of downed trees that were mowed over by a massive avalanche, and then along Witch Creek to the shores of Heart Lake. A few spots in the creek are warm enough to lounge in. Explore Rustic Geyser along the shoreline of Heart Lake before returning. This area is prime bear habitat, and also home to reintroduced wolf packs. The peak climb up Mt. Sheridan, looming above Heart Lake, adds a heart-pounding 2,700 feet in 3 miles, if you really want to make a day of it.
Shoshone Geyser Basin
Another long day (18 miles), but with arguably the most spectacular Yellowstone backcountry geyser basin in the middle of it. Start at the Lone Star Geyser Trail, 3.5 miles past the Old Faithful overpass along the Old Faithful-West Thumb road. Hike past Lone Star Geyser onto the Shoshone Lake Trail, climbing easily to Grants Pass, and on past the junction with Bechler Trail (6.7 miles). At 8.8 miles, turn right at the junction with North Shore Trail and take the circuit through the extensive geyser basin. The stream at the south end has some nice hot pools to dip in. Just south of the geyser basin, turn north on the Horse By-pass Trail and rejoin the Shoshone Lake trail after 2 miles to make your return.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication