Great Short Hikes
Enjoy these Yellowstone hikes when you’re traveling with children or are just short on time
The Boiling River Trail is a one-mile trail located near the "45th Parallel," about halfway between the northeast entrance in Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs. When the water levels are low enough for swimming to be permitted, you can enjoy the river water warmed by geothermal activity deep underground.
The Forces of the Northern Range Trail is a short 1/2 mile, boardwalk loop located halfway between Mammoth and Tower Junction. The trail leads through an area in the process of regrowth since the 1988 fires, and features several family-friendly interpretive stations for visitors to learn more about Yellowstone’s wildlife, plants, wildfires, and geology.
The Natural Bridge Trail begins at the Bridge Bay Marina parking lot, a few miles south of the Lake Hotel. This partially paved, 1 1/2-mile trail (3 miles round-trip) leads through a forested area to the Natural Bridge, an interesting rock formation. Here a 1/2 mile loop will lead you around the large “hole in the rock” formed by erosion that took place between the rock and Bridge Creek. If you are traveling with a stroller, and wish to walk the paved section only, begin your hike at the trailhead that starts from the main road between Lake Village and Grant Village, just south of the road bridge that crosses over the outlet of the marina. This old roadbed is not only great for walking -- it is one of the few bike trails in the Park.
The Artist Paint Pots Trail is located 4 1/2 miles south of Norris on the Norris-Madison road. This one-mile round-trip walk leads to some of the most colorful hot springs and small geysers found in the area (see photo, left). This trail is currently undergoing some rehabilitation, including an upgraded and expanded boardwalk, and is expected to reopen later this month.
The West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail is located on the scenic shore of Yellowstone Lake, 1/4 mile north of West Thumb Junction. This 3/8 mile boardwalk trail takes you through the geyser basin full of colorful hot springs and dormant lakeshore geysers. Take an online tour of West Thumb Geyser Basin here>>
In recent years, the Yellowstone Park Foundation has funded the rehabilitation of several of these trails for the safety and enjoyment of Park visitors.
Please remember that many Yellowstone trails are located in hydrothermal areas. The thin ground in these areas can break easily, and often overlies scalding water. It is important to remind children to always stay on the trail.
Link to more information on Yellowstone’s hiking trails>>