Hiking Yellowstone Near Old Faithful

One of the most visited areas in Yellowstone National Park surrounds The Old Faithful Lodge. There are a number of restaurants in the lodge and surrounding facilities and the largest parking areas inside the park. There are a number of trails suitable for short or extended hikes into the backcountry that begin in the Old Faithful recreation area. Here are a number of trails selected by park rangers.

Remember to carry rain gear, food and water, and other emergency equipment when hiking the backcountry trails. Be sure to check in for current trail conditions and bear activity information at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center before starting a hike.

yellowstaone hiking maps
See larger version below to download

Observation Point

geysers in the lower basin
  • Distance, round trip: 1.6 miles or 2.2 mi
  • Difficulty: strenuous; elevation gain 160 feet (48.8 m)
  • Trailhead is behind the Old Faithful Lodge and Cabins. Walk counterclockwise around the Old Faithful boardwalk; turn right at the sign to Geyser Hill. Trailhead is on the right after the Firehole River bridge, approximately 0.3 miles from the visitor center. Switchbacks lead up the hill 0.5 miles to an incredible view of the Upper Geyser Basin. Return the same way or continue west to Solitary Geyser, which erupts frequently, then to the Geyser Hill boardwalk. The longer route is 2.2 miles.

Howard Eaton Trail

the firehole river
  • Distance, round trip: 5.8 miles
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Trailhead: Park near the Old Faithful Ranger Station, then follow the paved path across the Grand Loop Road. Turn left at the first intersection, turn left again, and follow orange trailmarkers to the beginning of the trail. The trail climbs a burned hill, continues through spruce-fir forest, then down to Lone Star Geyser. Return the same way.

Lone Star

  • Distance, round trip: 4.8 miles
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Trailhead: 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of Old Faithful Overpass, just beyond parking for Kepler Cascades.
  • This pleasant, partially paved trail follows an old service road beside the Firehole River to the geyser. Cyclists must dismount at the end of the asphaltand walk the last few hundred feet. Lone Star erupts up to 45 feet from from a 12-foot cone approximately every three hours.

Mallard Lake

  • Distance, round trip: 6.8 miles
  • Difficulty: moderately strenuous
  • Trailhead: Southeast side of the Old Faithful Lodge cabins, near the Firehole River. Take the first right turn as you come into the Old Faithful Lodge area and continue down the road past some cabins to the trailhead. The trail crosses the Firehole River, passes Pipeline Hot Springs, and climbs rolling hills of partially-burned lodgepole pine and open, rocky areas to the lake. Return the same way, or if you have arranged a car shuttle, continue via the Mallard Creek trail, for a total of 7.7 miles.
Old Faithful Lodge

Fairy Falls

  • Distance, round trip: 5 miles (8.4 km)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Trailheads: Short route—park 1 mile south of Midway Geyser Basin, cross the steel bridge and walk 1.1 mile to the trailhead. Long route—park at the end of FountainFlat Dr. and walk 3 miles to the trailhead. The trail travels through young forest 1.4 miles to the 200-foot falls. Continue 0.65 miles past the falls through a wet area to Imperial Geyser, which has frequent minor eruptions.

Sentinel Meadows & Queen’s Laundry

  • Distance, round trip: 3.8 miles if you go to Queen’s Laundry
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: 10 miles north of Old Faithful, turn left on Fountain Flat Drive. Park at the end of the road, cross the footbridge over the Firehole River to the trailhead. The trail follows the Firehole River a short distance, then veers toward the meadows. Look for the large sinter mounds of hot springs and the remains of the old, incomplete bathhouse.

Queen’s Laundry

  • 1.9 miles from the trailhead.
  • This trail is often very wet in spring and buggy in summer. Begun in 1881, construction was abandoned as park administrations and priorities changed. Minerals from the hot springs preserved the structure, which was the first building constructed by the government for public use in any national park. Queen’s Laundry is a National Historic Site.

Cautions: Hydrothermal areas: The thin ground in these areas breaks easily, and often overlies scalding water. Stay on the trail. All Wildlife: You must stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves; and at least 25 yards away from all other animals—including birds. Bears: Although your chance of an encounter is low, your safety is not guaranteed. Minimize your risks by making loud noises, shouting, or singing. Hike in groups and use caution where vision is obstructed. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Do not hike after dark.


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