Three More Hikes Totaling 10.8 Miles

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Current Status: 18.9 miles hiked, only 81.1 miles to go.

1) Old Faithful Boardwalk (aka Upper Geyser Basin) – 2.8 miles

The Yellowstone Art and Photography Center sits between the Visitors Center and the Old Faithful Lodge looking out onto the Old Faithful Geyser.  Constructed in 1927 to process film and provide other photographic services to Yellowstone visitors, it was originally known as the Haynes Photo Shop.

The Yellowstone Art and Photography Center sits between the Visitors Center and the Old Faithful Lodge looking out onto the Old Faithful Geyser. Constructed in 1927 to process film and provide other photographic services to Yellowstone visitors, it was originally known as the Haynes Photo Shop.

Old Faithful Geyser is only one of many geysers in the upper geyser basin within Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful is not the biggest nor the tallest of geysers but it is the most reliable, hence the name. It’s also the most popular. Well over a thousand people watch each daytime eruption during mid-summer. The Yellowstone Art and Photography Center, where I volunteer,  has a front row seat. Myself and the other staff members often hold a contest to see who can best predict the next eruption.  We make our predictions before the Park Service makes theirs and the winner in our group is usually off by only a minute or two.

Large crowds gather for every eruption of Old Faithful during the peak summer months. The historic Old Faithful Inn can be seen in the background.

Large crowds gather for every eruption of Old Faithful during the peak summer months. The historic Old Faithful Inn can be seen in the background.

The upper geyser basin contains over 30 thermal features making it the largest concentration of active geysers in the world.

The upper geyser basin contains over 30 thermal features making it the largest concentration of active geysers in the world.

Even though the upper geyser basin hike is more of a walk, it still counts towards my 100 mile goal. I took the route that I recommend to visitors: cross the Firehole River northeast of Old Faithful, follow the boardwalk up to Morning Glory Pool, then take the paved bike path back. The hike took me about 1-1/2 hours since I stopped along the way to admire the many thermal features.

Morning Glory Pool is my favorite and is located at the far end of the hike. The various colors are indicative of the different strains of bacteria than thrive in the thermal pool. The temperature at the center of the pool is close to the boiling point and cools to around 160 degrees towards the edge.

Morning Glory Pool is my favorite and is located at the far end of the hike. The various colors are indicative of the different strains of bacteria than thrive in the thermal pool. The temperature at the center of the pool is close to the boiling point and cools to around 160 degrees towards the edge.

2) Lone Star Geyser – 4.6 miles (44.418315, -110.806024)

End of the bike path trail leading out to Lone Star Geyser.

End of the bike path trail leading out to Lone Star Geyser.

There are 3 trails leading to Lone Star Geyser and I took the easiest which is an old road/bike path that parallels the Firehole River. This trailhead is just east of Kepler Cascades which is about 3 miles from the Old Faithful Area.

The Firehole River along the trail to Lone Star Geyser. The section of the Firehole River is upstream of where it passes through the Upper Geyser Basin by Old Faithful.

The Firehole River along the trail to Lone Star Geyser. This section of the Firehole River is upstream of where it passes through the Upper Geyser Basin by Old Faithful.

Most of the trail passes through pine forests and a few meadows. Along the way I saw a man fly fishing as well as a black bear crossing the trail ahead of me. Unfortunately the bear disappeared into the woods before I could get a photograph (and yes, I had my bear spray).

I passed through numerous meadows along the way to Lone Star Geyser.

I passed through numerous meadows along the way to Lone Star Geyser.

The trail is relatively flat so I made good time. After about 45 minutes, I arrived at a clearing containing Lone Star Geyser along with a few other thermal features, mostly fumaroles or steam vents. While I saw no one on the trail, I met up with about a dozen other hikers all waiting for Lone Star to erupt. A log book is maintained at the geyser location and a previous hiker noted it had erupted around 10:30 meaning is was due to erupt again around 1:30. It was 12:30 when I arrived so I decided to wait. During the next hour, a brief thunderstorm rolled through dropping pea-sized hail and about 15 minutes of hard rain.

Lone Star erupted around 1:25, less than an hour after I arrived.

Lone Star erupted around 1:25, less than an hour after I arrived.

Once Lone Star went off, I was the first to head back. I thought I was making good time but I heard someone gaining on me. I tried to pick up the pace, but to no avail so I decided to stop and let the person pass. It turned out to be an elderly lady (70-75). She apologized and explained to me she had an app on her phone that prompted her to exceed 3 mph. Maybe by the end of this summer, I’ll be in as good as shape as she.

3) Mystic Falls via Biscuit Basin Overlook – 3.4 miles (44.486765, -110.86617)

Top of Biscuit Basin Overlook. Once can see the Old Faithful area in the distance.

Top of Biscuit Basin Overlook. One can see the Old Faithful area in the distance.

Hiking to the top of Biscuit Basin Overlook was by far the most difficult hike in my quest to hike 100 miles. The elevation change is only 600 feet but the trail seems to go straight up via multiple switchbacks on a narrow rocky path.

The hike starts on a boardwalk that goes by numerous colorful thermal features in Biscuit Basin. At the western end of the boardwalk, a dirt trail leads to Mystic Falls upstream on the Little Firehole river.   Not far from the boardwalk, the trail splits into a loop. Most visitors take a left, head directly to the falls and then return by the same route. This is the easy route. I took a right which took me up the mountain to the overlook. After resting at the top and trying not to share my snack with an aggressive ground squirrel, I continued in a counterclockwise direction which brought me back down another set of switchbacks along Mystic Falls.

Along the route I saw a pika, Dusty Grouse, and Western Tanager.

If this dusty grouse had not been making cooing sounds, I never would have seen her. 4-5 chicks were also present but were so well camouflaged, none showed up in my photos.

If this dusty grouse had not been making cooing sounds, I never would have seen her. 4 to 5 chicks were also present but were so well camouflaged, none showed up in my photos.

The western tanager I saw didn't stand still for a photo so here's one I found on the Internet.

The western tanager I saw didn’t stand still for a photo so here’s a picture of one I found on the Internet.

Mystic Falls - Hikes taking the easy route only see the falls from the base. I took the difficult route and was able to see the falls from top to bottom.

Mystic Falls – Hikers taking the easy route only see the falls from the base. I took the difficult route and was able to see the falls from top to bottom.

Yellowstone National Park had heavy snows this past winter and much of it is still melting. This has created an abundance of mosquitos especially on the lower sections of the Mystic Falls trail.  We’re entering the dry (aka fire) season so hopefully they’ll soon die off.

Sapphire Pool is one of multiple thermal features in Biscuit Basin.

Sapphire Pool is one of multiple thermal features in Biscuit Basin.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather