Day Hikes Near Mammoth


Beaver Ponds Loop Trail
Bunsen Peak Trail
Osprey Falls Trail
Lava Creek Trail
Rescue Creek Trail
Sepulcher Mountain Trail
Wraith Falls
Blacktail Deer Creek-Yellowstone River Trail

Day hiking in Yellowstone provides an ideal opportunity for people of all ages to get out and experience the park’s many wonders away from the crowds. Thousands of miles of trails await, and wildlife sightings are nearly always guaranteed. Those planning a day trip into Yellowstone’s wilderness are encouraged to stop by a ranger station or visitor’s center for trail maps and the latest information regarding weather, animal activity, and trail closures. The following trails are available in the Mammoth Hot Springs Area.

Beaver Ponds Loop Trail
Distance: 5-mile (8 km) loop
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Location: Locate the Clematis Gulch Trailhead between the Judge’s historic stone house and Liberty Cap near the Lower Terraces.

Rising 350 feet amid stands of Douglas fir, the Beaver Ponds Loop Trail winds next to a creek in the Clematis Gulch and through open aspen meadows before arriving at an assortment of beaver lodges and dams. The hike is noted for offering spectacular views and wildlife sightings of moose, deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope.

Bunsen Peak
Bunsen Peak. NPS Photo

Bunsen Peak Trail
Distance: 10 miles (16.1 km) roundtrip
Climb: gentle
Difficulty:
moderate
Location:
The trailhead is located 5 miles south of Mammoth at the entrance to the Old Bunsen Peak Road.

Providing sweeping vistas of the Yellowstone River Valley, Gallatin Mountain Range, Blacktail Plateau, and Swan Lake Flats, the Bunsen Peak Trail gradually climbs 1,300 feet to Bunsen Peak’s summit. Hikers can descend back to the trailhead along the same trail or take an optional hike to nearby Osprey Falls (see hike description below).

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Osprey Falls Trail
Distance: 8 miles (12.9 km) roundtrip
Climb: steep
Difficulty:
difficult
Location:
The trailhead is located on the Old Bunsen Peak Road 5 miles south of Mammoth.

Passing through grassland and burnt forest while following the Sheepeater Canyon Rim, the Osprey Falls Trail begins switchbacking down to Sheepeater Canyon’s floor after 2.5 miles. At the base of the canyon, hikers are greeted with stunning views of the canyon’s 500-foot walls and the 150-foot tall Osprey Falls.

Lava Creek Trail
Distance: 7 miles (11.3 km) roundtrip
Climb: gentle
Difficulty:
moderate
Location:
The trailhead is located near the Lava Creek Picnic Area Bridge on the Mammoth-Tower Road. 

Descending gradually beside Lava Creek, the Lava Creek Trail passes Undine Falls on its journey to the Gardner River and a pullout area directly north of the Mammoth Hot Springs Campground. Hikers can either have a shuttle vehicle waiting at this destination or return to the trailhead via the same route.

Rescue Creek Trail
Distance: 16 miles (12.9 km) roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty:
moderate
Location:
Rescue Creek Trail departs 7 miles east of Mammoth at the Blacktail Trailhead on the Mammoth-Tower Road.

After hiking 0.75 miles on the Blacktail Deer Creek Trail, hikers veer off onto the Rescue Creek Trail. Gradually winding its way through open wildflower and aspen meadows, the trail then drops 1,400 feet to the Gardner River and continues to the park’s North Entrance. Hikers may either return to the trailhead on the same trail or arrange a shuttle from the North Entrance Station.

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Sepulcher Mountain Trail
Distance: 11-mile (17.7 km) loop
Climb: steep
Difficulty:
strenuous
Location:
Locate the Sepulcher Mountain Trail at the Clematis Gulch Trailhead between the Judge’s Stone House and Liberty Cap. 

Upon following the Beaver Ponds Trail to its junction with the Sepulcher Mountain Trail, hikers then climb 3,400 feet to the 9,652-foot peak of Sepulcher Mountain. Upon reaching the summit, the trail descends on the mountain’s opposite side past Snow Pass Trail Junction to the Howard Eaton Trail. The Howard Eaton Trail carries hikers west to the trailhead. The scenic trail offers outstanding views while hiking through pine trees and open meadows.

Wraith Falls
Distance: 1 mile (1 km) roundtrip
Climb: level
Difficulty:
easy
Location:
The trailhead is located on the Mammoth-Tower Road at a pullout 0.25 miles east of the Lava Creek Picnic Area. 

Located on Lupine Creek, Wraith Falls awaits hikers on this short trip appropriate for park visitors of all ages and skill levels. The trail passes through Douglas fir stands and open sagebrush plains.

Blacktail Deer Creek-Yellowstone River Trail
Distance: 25 miles (42 km) roundtrip
Climb: gentle
Difficulty:
moderate (due to length)
Location: Locate the Blacktail Trailhead 7 miles east of Mammoth on the Mammoth-Tower Road.

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During the first 12.5-miles of this hike near the Yellowstone River, users descend 1,100 feet amid Douglas fir trees and rolling hills. After crossing the Yellowstone River on a steel suspension bridge, hikers continue down to Knowles Falls and the trail’s halfway mark in Gardiner. Hikers must then follow the same trail 12.5 miles back to the trailhead. 

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