Skip to content

10 Easy Must-Do Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is home to not only some of the most wondrous geologic landscapes on the planet, but it also features over 1,000 miles of hiking trails just waiting to be explored. While some trails are geared more toward multi-day expeditions, many of the trails are also considered short and easy, allowing anyone to get a taste of the Yellowstone backcountry.

Of course if you’re hiking anywhere, it’s always recommended you practice Leave No Trace principles to not only keep the trails safe and clean for your journey, but anyone else that might follow as well.

Likewise, be sure to always carry bear spray and know how to use it. Bear bells have no effect on bears, so don’t waste your time with them.

Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls Pouring over Cliff
Fairy Falls pouring over a cliff and onto the ground among a sparse forest. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

One of the more popular trails listed here, the Fairy Falls Trail is a relaxed 2.5 miles (one way). Along the way you pass the edges of the Midway Geyser Basin, and hike through a serene young forest before reaching a stunning 200-foot waterfall. You also have the option to take a brief detour up to the Grand Prismatic Overlook, where you’re treated to a semi-aerial view of the world’s third-largest hot spring and one of Yellowstone’s most iconic features.

Distance: 2.5 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

Storm Point

Clouds Passing Above Yellowstone Lake
Clouds moving and passing above Yellowstone Lake beyond the Storm Point Trail. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The Storm Point Trail is a 3 mile lollipop loop hike, taking you through a majestic old forest as well as the expansive shores of Yellowstone Lake. The titular point is easily accessible from the trail and provides a gorgeous spot to stop and take in the scenery. Marmots also frequent the area so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

Distance: 3 miles

Type: Lollipop Loop

Morning Glory Pool

Morning Glory Pool Under Clouds
Morning Glory Pool steaming below a cloudy sky. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Morning Glory Pool has the distinction of being one of the most recognized backcountry thermal features in Yellowstone National Park. Its stunning color is not only mesmerizing to see, but is also a valuable lesson in properly preserving the hot springs and other thermal features. In the early days of the park, objects were thrown in, ultimately clogging the “plumbing,” which in turn cooled off the average temperature of the spring, causing the colors to change. Regardless, it’s still a beautiful feature that draws people from the roadside for good reason.

Distance: 1.4 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

Harlequin Lake

Harlequin Lake Reflections
Fall colors reflected in Harlequin Lake. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Harlequin Lake is a short and easy hike that brings you up to a gorgeous backcountry glacial lake that most people simply drive right by. Initially ascending northward through a young forest, the trail bends to the west after rising above a small hill. The descent to the lake is a delightful little jaunt that drops you right onto the shores of the scenic lake, flanked to the north by the large cliffs of the Yellowstone volcano caldera rim.

Distance: 0.5 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

North Rim Trail

Bright Rhyolite Along North Rim Trail
Bright white rhyolite rock descending into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River along the North Rim Trail. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The North Rim Trail is a scenic trail linking all the remarkable viewpoints and hot spots along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. This trail provides an excellent way to watch the canyon go from a small muted gorge to a deep and colorful canyon. In addition to the views, the trail also provides access to the brink of both the Lower and Upper Falls. Whether you hike a small portion or the whole thing, it won’t disappoint!

Distance: 3.3 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

Ice Lake

Ice Lake Shore Winding into Distance
The shores of Ice Lake winding into the distance below storm clouds. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

As the shortest hike on this list, the Ice Lake Trail still offers a great reward. The trail explores the western and northern shores of the glacial lake, providing tranquil views of the peaceful body of water. There’s even a few backcountry campsites which allow for either a great introduction to backpacking, or a short alternative to many of the lengthier options in the area.

Distance: 0.25 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

Little Gibbon Falls

Forest Surrounding Little Gibbon Falls
A large forest surrounding Little Gibbon Falls along the Gibbon River below the Wolf Lake Trail. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Found not very far from Ice Lake, the hike to Little Gibbon Falls culminates at a fantastic vantage point overlooking the titular waterfall. Oddly reminiscent of its larger roadside counterpart, it’s a gorgeous destination for little effort. It can also be linked together with the Ice Lake Trail for a longer, but still easy hike through the woods.

Distance: 0.8 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls
Mystic Falls pouring over a cliff with thermal features steaming nearby. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Mystic Falls is another spectacular waterfall hike, this one living up to its enigmatic name. Reached by hiking along a trail that extends beyond Biscuit Basin, the 70-foot waterfall pours over cliffs as nearby thermal features cast an eerie presence around the landscape. There’s even an option to take a scenic loop trail back to Biscuit Basin at roughly the same mileage.

Distance: 1.2 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

Lone Star Geyser

Lone Star Geyser Steam Phase
Lone Star Geyser erupting in its steam phase, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Lone Star Geyser is a picturesque backcountry geyser that is also known for its dramatic steam eruption, taking place shortly after its traditional eruption. Accessed by following the easy trail up the Firehole River, you’ll head back into the forest to a small geyser basin where the cone marks the obvious location of the geyser. This location is also an easy jaunt away from the popular thru-hike, the Continental Divide Trail.

Distance: 2.5 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

Duck Lake

Grasses Along Duck Lake Shore
Grasses and wildflowers growing along the shores of Duck Lake. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Duck Lake is reached from a trail that begins at the West Thumb Geyser Basin parking area. The short hike guides you up and over a small hill where the lake emerges from the forest below. Though not terribly large, it still appears bigger than expected, and provides an unexpectedly unique scene in Yellowstone to relax.

Distance: 0.5 miles (one way)

Type: Out and Back

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All content © Copyright Mike Cavaroc, Free Roaming Hiker & Free Roaming Photography

Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com