Ten Yellowstone Backcountry Dayhikes

Moderate Hikes
  |  Gorp.com

Pebble Creek

This may have the most exhilarating views, at the least energy expense, of any day hike in the park. For almost the entire 12-mile length, there are non-stop rugged vistas full of 10,000 foot peaks and buttresses. The trailhead sits just east of Pebble Creek Bridge on the Northeast Entrance Road. Climb a moderate 500 feet to a pretty meadow with the first taste of big views. Parallel Pebble Creek, crossing it twice, over the next three miles, with Barronette Peak rising dramatically to the east. At 6.6 miles, pass the Bliss Creek trail junction and continue to the stunning upper meadows (9.5 miles). Be prepared for some serious wildflowers. Stop and enjoy before descending from a ridge back to the Northeast Entrance road at the Warm Creek Picnic Area.

Gneiss Creek

A pleasant and relatively unused trail with little elevation gain and lots of opportunity to see wildlife along the edges of the upper Madison River valley. For 14 miles the path winds along cliffs, through forests, and across sage meadows. Elk are sometimes seen in large numbers in this section of the park. Start walking at the Madison River Bridge, 7 miles in from West Yellowstone on the West Entrance road. After an initial mile along the river bank next to steep cliffs, the trail leaves the river and skirts along the edges of the broad valley. Finish the 14-mile walk at the Fir Ridge Cemetery, at milepost 9 on highway 191.

Ice Lake - Cascade Lake

Park at the Ice Lake trailhead, 3.5 miles east of Norris on the Norris-Canyon Road. In less than half a mile you'll reach Ice Lake and the Howard Eaton Trail. Turn east 3.7 miles to the shore of Wolf Lake, surrounded by pretty meadows. Continue northeast to Grebe Lake, and on to Cascade Lake. Just east of Cascade Lake, the 3-mile, 1,400' trail up Observation Peak heads off to the left, if you want to add some exertion and pretty views over the Central Plateau to the outing. About 1 mile further, turn south on the Cascade Creek Trail and follow it for 2.5 miles to the trailhead on the Norris-Canyon road. Total mileage (not including Observation Peak) is 10.5.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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