Display Hikes National Parks/Monuments

Yellowstone Kid Hikes

There are plenty of hikes that kids can hike in Yellowstone.

In 2013 we spent a week in Yellowstone and the Tetons. We had a great time and saw 17 different kinds of animals (not including the 41 species of birds we identified). We’ve written quite a lot about Yellowstone, including sections on Yellowstone’s geothermic features, Waterfalls to visit, Scenic Drives, and on where to find animals in Yellowstone.

Our family tradition is to go to Yellowstone every other year, so we’ve had a lot of experience with the hikes there, particulary the kid friendly hikes. We are currently working on expanding this section by writing a complete post about each hike, so click on the name of the hike for more information and pictures.

Every trail in Yellowstone is beautiful!

Lost Lake: The Lost Lake hike is in the northeast corner of the park at the Roosevelt Junction. It climbs the hill behind the Roosevelt General Store, passes Lost Lake, and ends at the Petrified Tree. The distance varies on whether you shuttle or do an out and back, but to the lake and back from Roosevelt is under 2 miles.

Lost Lake was a great destination for the kids to throw rocks!

Wraith Falls: We have done this hike every time we’ve been to Yellowstone. Located just a few miles east of Mammoth, this short, easy hike can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone. A short walk across an open meadow with a boardwalk for much of the way ends at a beautiful waterfall. The round trip is just 1 mile.

Wraith Falls

Wraith Falls

Artist Paint Pots: This hike is very well known. It is located between Norris and Madison Junction and has it’s own turnout. The actual hike is short, in the shape of a lollipop, and has one steep part that includes steps (if you take the lollipop counter-clockwise). The payoff is unique geological features that looks just like boiling paint– mostly white and gray. The round trip is 1.2 miles.

Artist Paint Pots

Artist Paint Pots

Harlequin Lake: Our four year-olds did great on this hike. We love to do it on the way into the park as it is located between the west entrance and Madison Junction. It starts off a little steep and meanders up to a beautiful mountain lake that has many birds, chipmunks and squirrels. As far as a flashy ending, there isn’t one– it’s just a lake. Still, at 1 mile out-and-back, this is a great hike for kids.

Harlequin Lake is a pretty little lake.

Little Gibbon Falls: The problem with this hike is that it is entirely unmarked. You’ll need special instructions to find it. It is located exactly 3.3 miles east of Norris. There is a pullout on the south side of the road. The hike starts near an orange marker across the road and about 30 yards east (toward Canyon) from the pullout. The trail goes through some soggy meadows (you may encounter mosquitoes) and ends at a beautiful waterfall that not very many Yellowstone visitors see. The trail is out-and-back, just 1.2 miles.

Little Gibbon Falls

Little Gibbon Falls

Trout Lake: This is one of our favorite short hikes because we saw an otter at this lake! The trail is very short, just .6 miles up to the lake, but we wanted to walk around the entire lake (probably another .6 or so) and then .6 back. The trail is quite steep up to the lake, so you may find this difficult, but we went with 6 kids age 6 and under (the cousins tagging along), and they all walked the entire way (except the infant on my back). If you can handle the climb, you’ll love this hike located in the Lamar Valley.

Trout Lake

Trout Lake

Ice Lake: The Ice Lake trailhead is located near the Norris Junction. To call this a hike is a bit ambitious as it is only .6 miles out and back to the destination. Ice Lake is surprisingly large and beautiful. The trail is very flat and pleasant and appropriate for the very old or the very young.

Ice lake is quite large…it stretches around further than we could see.

Mystic Falls: We did this hike before we had children, and it ends at a beautiful 70 foot waterfall. There is some climbing, and the trail is a little longer– about 4 miles around the lollipop, but you can also hike out to the falls and back– 1.1 miles each way if you’d like to shorten this hike.

Mystic Falls is a big waterfall.

Fairy Falls: This is the crown-jewel of Yellowstone hikes. Fairy Falls is absolutely amazing and plunges 200 feet into a beautiful pool. The trail is long, though, at 5.2 miles. This trailhead is near Old Faithful, and the trail is very flat and easy. You start out on what used to be a dirt road, and after about a mile you turn into the pines and walk to the falls. We really pushed our almost 5-year old to get this one done, and our kids are pretty experienced hikers, so save this one until the kids our a little older.

Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls

Pelican Creek Nature Trail: The nature trail is located just east of fishing bridge and runs about 1 mile in length. It hugs the shore of Yellowstone Lake before turning into the trees and heading back toward the car. The hike is shady and peaceful and easy for all levels. There is no elevation gain and little danger of running into large animals.

Pelican Creek Nature Trail leads out to a sandy beach.

Duck Lake: We haven’t been able to find this hike in any of the books we have on Yellowstone, even though it is clearly marked along the road near West Thumb. The hike is about a mile long round-trip and goes to a large secluded lake. There is a gentle climb and descent to the lake, but our two year-old easily completed this hike.

Duck Lake is beautiful and we always find solitude here.

Storm Point: This hike is located between Fishing Bridge and the east entrance. It is 1.5 mile loop that follows the shore of Yellowstone Lake. We really like this hike because you are guaranteed to see some wildlife. There is a marmot colony about halfway around the loop, and marmots sit on the rocks and whistle at you. On the other side of the loop is Storm Point, which juts out into the lake. This is another hike that we’ve done nearly every time we’ve gone to Yellowstone.

Sheepeater Cliff: The hike at Sheepeater Cliff quickly became a family favorite. It’s a little secret trail from the Sheepeater Picnic Area. The trail is flat, easy, and has a waterfall at the end. We loved this beautiful trail!

There are a lot more easy hikes in Yellowstone, but we haven’t had a chance to try them yet. Let us know if you have a favorite in the comment section!

 

We have also visited lots of other National Parks. Here are some great family friendly hikes in the National Parks in and around Utah.

Grand Teton Kid Hikes

Badlands Kid Hikes (coming soon)

Rocky Mountain Kid Hikes (coming soon)

Bryce Canyon Kid Hikes

Zion Kid Hikes

Arches Kid Hikes

Canyonlands Kid Hikes

Great Basin Kid Hikes

Mesa Verde Kid Hikes

 

*Note: Though the reviews above are ours, we sometimes use the book “Hiking Yellowstone National Park: A Falcon Guide” by Bill Schneider to find our hikes. Click on the book to see it on Amazon:

9 Comments

  • I’ll be visiting Yellowstone next summer with my daughter who will be 6 then. Let’s just say she’s not exactly an avid hiker so this information is particularly helpful to gauge some hikes that will be appropriate for her. Thanks for sharing!

    • Have so much fun in Yellowstone! It is our favorite place. There are so many easy hikes–we hope you find one that she will enjoy.

  • What a helpful blog! Thank you! Can you recommend a good hiking toddler carrier for a 31pound almost 3 yr old? Thanks so much!!

    • We have an Evenflo Trailblazer backpack, but Evenflo no longer makes their child carriers. You can find them on eBay sometimes. We love this one because it is light, and easy to use. So we have not tested out any other backpacks, but most of our friends and neighbors have Kelty carriers now, and they seem to like them. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful.

  • We have tried to go on this hike a few times. Both times there were bear warnings and we couldn’t go…but one day. Thanks for letting us know it’s worth trying.

  • Thank you so much for this!!! We go each year, but some of these places we’ve not heard of! Our kids are going to be so excited to have a chance and stretch out their legs….

  • Thanks for sharing all this info! Our family is planning a reunion near Yellowstone next month and this will help us a lot, especially with knowing what the different age groups of kids can handle.