Yellowstone National Park has more than 1,000 miles of trails.The origins of the Yellowstone trails system stem from human use and improvement of game trails that followed the path-of-least-resistance, traveling the most direct route between locations. This early lack of structural design, construction, and maintenance has raised a variety of safety and maintenance concerns as trail deterioration leads to damage of sensitive wetlands, stream crossings and fragile meadows.
Twice in the twentieth century the National Park Service improved and expanded Yellowstone's trails, but the second of these efforts occurred half a century ago. Now, with increasing visitation, Yellowstone trails are showing significant wear. The Park now faces a trail restoration backlog that can’t be eliminated without private support.
Recognizing the task ahead, the Park has partnered with youth groups, conservation corps, and volunteer organizations to bring more hands to work. A decade plan for restoring Yellowstone's most traveled trails has been developed. What is needed now is the funding to execute it.
The Yellowstone Park Foundation established a $2 million Yellowstone Trails Fund. This fund is restoring trail networks encompassing popular visitor destinations in the Old Faithful, Canyon, Mammoth Hot Springs and Yellowstone Lake areas.
At the conclusion of this 10-year plan, 100 percent of the most heavily used trails in Yellowstone will be restored. As the National Park Service turns 100 in 2016, we will be able to ensure that every hike in Yellowstone provides a memory of lasting value.