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Flagg Canyon

The Snake River flowing downstream through Flagg Canyon. John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, Wyoming

The Flagg Canyon Trail is an easy 2.6 mile (one way) hike that winds down the Snake River, just south of Yellowstone National Park. The trail wanders past a gorgeous canyon cut by the river, showing off surprising topography hidden from the main road.

While this trail is listed as a shuttle hike, it can also be hiked as an out and back thanks to its relatively short distance.

Similarly, if you’re not interested in hiking the full distance for whatever reason, I’ve listed two different points that make for great spots to turn around. Read on to find out more.

Flagg Canyon Trail Description

Beginning at the picnic area on the east side of the road just south of the Yellowstone National Park South Entrance, look for the trail to begin next to the boat launch. You’ll wind along small hills through the forest as you begin to parallel the Snake River. Through the dense forest, you’ll veer away from the river, heading more into the woods, ultimately snaking close to the road.

As you continue along, you’ll emerge out along the river once again, high above the mountain stream. Shortly after reaching this point, you’ll come across some of the burned area from the Berry Fire of 2016. With the new forest still young, you’re provided stunning views up and down the river as it cuts through a deep gorge in the canyon.

Winding along the western rim of the canyon, you’ll descend along the river to a point where it widens. It’s in this area that you’ll also notice a beautiful waterfall on the opposite canyon wall. If you’re short on time or resources, this is the first of two places that make for an ideal turn-around spot. Otherwise, the trail continues heading downstream.

As you near the other end of the burn area, you’ll reach a junction to access Flagg Ranch. Stay left to continue down the Flagg Canyon Trail. The trail will remain along the river, heading back into the less-burned woods. The terrain will drop down into a flood plain below as you wind along the smooth rim above. You’ll continue away from the river, once again veering closer to the road.

Snaking through the old woods, you pop out into a series of meadows, treating you to gorgeous views looking up and down the Snake River once more. The trail continues along the meadows above the river for a few hundred yards, and any point along this stretch makes for the second great spot to turn around, if desired. To finish up the trail, continue onward.

The Snake River winding through large foothills of the Absaroka Mountains along the Flagg Canyon Trail. John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, Wyoming

The forest will grow denser as you make your way out of the meadows. You’ll then descend closer to the river, entering another large meadow with a pond on the right. Heading in and out of small forest groves, you’ll wind around with the river, ultimately intersecting with the main highway. From here, you can have a shuttle vehicle parked on the opposite side of the road, or you can turn around and hike the trail back up the river.

Getting There

From the Moran Entrance Station in Grand Teton National Park, continue north on Highway 89 for 26.5 miles. You’ll pass the park boundary at the top of Huckleberry Hill, where you’re informed that you’re entering the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. Continue down the hill, crossing the Snake River, then passing Flagg Ranch as you approach the south gate of Yellowstone National Park. At 1.6 miles past Flagg Ranch, look for a discrete picnic area on your right. Follow that to the back and look for a place to park that doesn’t obstruct the loop.

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

Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com