Big Fun for Little Legs: Our Favorite Hikes in Yellowstone

While Yellowstone offers plenty to see and do without venturing far from the roads, some of our favorite Yellowstone memories were made out on the trails. Even with young children, we found six hikes in the park that were the perfect balance of fun and kid friendly terrain.

Specimen Ridge Trail (Trailhead to Grand Canyon Overlook)
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Round Trip Distance: 2 miles
Just a few miles past Tower Falls on the road to the Northeast Entrance, the Specimen Ridge trail makes a relatively easy climb and after a mile offers great views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone looking towards Tower Fall. We found the view of the Canyon a great place for a picnic lunch before heading back.

Hellroaring Creek Trail (Trailhead to Black Canyon of the Yellowstone)

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Round Trip Distance: 2 miles
This trailhead can be found on the road between Mammoth and Tower-Roosevelt. Unlike most of the other hikes, this one starts with a moderate descent through several switchbacks. It then flattens out and comes to an impressive suspension bridge over the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. The swaying of the bridge makes crossing an adventure in itself, and there are some great views down from the bridge into the Canyon. A set of large rocks just beyond the bridge were a popular place for both climbing and snacking.

Brink of Lower Falls
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Round Trip Distance: 0.8 miles

Definitely one of the more adventurous hikes that are still manageable for young children, this trail descends from the Lower Falls parking lot through a series of switchbacks to the brink of the Lower Falls. The view looking 308 feet straight down from the top of the falls is quite a thrill, and the Younger Fives could really appreciate the power of the Yellowstone River when they heard it thundering just under their feet.

Duck Lake Trail
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Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
This is a nice little trial that starts across the road from the West Thumb Geysers parking lot. The trail goes through new-growth pine before slowly descending to the lake. While not the most scenic of trails (the power lines over portions of the trail and the Loop Road visible from the lake itself do distract some from the natural scenery), the Younger Fives were delighted to find some huge stick structures to climb in on the beach. It was also nice for once to be near water and not have to worry about scalding temperatures or sulfuric acid.

Bunsen Peak Trail
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Round Trip Distance: 4 miles to peak /  2 miles to good overlook before ascent

This is a great hike on the road between Mammoth and Norris. The first mile of the trail is a pretty gentle climb up with several good views of the surrounding peaks and lakes. After about a mile the trail continues up a moderately steep switchbacks to the summit. We opted for just the 2 mile loop, and really enjoyed the birds eye view of Golden Gate Canyon.

Artists Paint Pot
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Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
This is a great stop on the road between Mammoth and Old Faithful (just a little south of Norris). The trail goes through some new growth woods before coming to a boardwalk loop around mudpots, springs, geysers, and vents. The colors ranged from blues to browns, and the mudpots here (acidic water that dissolved rock into a bubbling goo) were quite impressive.

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