Current Status: 79.8 miles hiked, 20.2 miles to go.
Observation Point, Old Faithful – 2.1 miles
Cindy and I hiked this one together. It’s an easy loop trail that starts just off the boardwalk in the upper geyser basin and climbs 160 feet providing a bird’s eye view of Old Faithful and the surrounding area. The trail is less steep when hiked in a counterclockwise direction. About half way up is Solitary Geyser. It appears as a placid thermal pool then suddenly erupts about every 5-7 minutes startling nearby observers much like a Jack-in-the-box. It’s fun to watch the kids jump and scream when it goes off.
After we watched Old Faithful go off, Cindy and I hiked back down the trail. Along the way we saw a marmot posing and a family of otters making their way up stream on the Firehole River.
Riddle Lake – 4.4 Miles (44.361795, -110.55203)
There wasn’t much to see on this easy out-and-back hike to Riddle Lake. The lake itself is pretty and very “moosey” but I saw no moose. In an effort to get in shape, I completed this hike in about 1 hour 20 minutes (3.4 mph).
Specimen Ridge – 6.4 miles (44.892422, -110.361249)
This is a great hike! The Specimen Ridge trail runs the entire south side of Lamar Valley, home to the highest concentration of large mammals in the lower 48. I didn’t hike the entire length but a 6.4 mile out-and-back stretch on the western end. The hike starts in a picnic pullout by the Yellowstone River and climbs steeply to a ridge overlooking the river.
Along the way I saw bison, bighorn sheep, a marmot, a herd of pronghorn but thankfully no bears. I have seen grizzlies atop Specimen Ridge while looking for wolves from the road that runs through Lamar Valley.
Mallard Lake – 7.9 miles (44.473869, -110.775576)
Cindy dropped me at the trailhead at its the northern end of this hike on her way to West Yellowstone and picked me up at Old Faithful about 4 hours later. This is my longest and least favorite hike so far. The first 4.4 miles passes through mostly scrub pine with lots of ups and downs making for an exhausting hike. There is a cool overlook of Mallard Lake near the end of this leg but not worth the effort. The second leg (3.5 m) was much better and passes through mature pine forests for most of the way at a slight decline. I met other hikers coming from Old Faithful on this leg. Along the way I saw a western bluebird, osprey and a ground squirrel but no other wildlife. No bears but plenty of bear signs.
While I didn’t see any bears, I did see bear foot prints and split logs along the trail. If you were a bear, would you walk here…