“Cross the heart of beautiful Bechler Meadows and explore spectacular 150-foot Dunanda Falls.”
— Tom Carter
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Not recommended before late July because of high water in Bartlett Slough and Boundary Creek, and swarms of hungry mosquitos.
The 17.2 mile (one-way) Boundary Creek Trail begins at Bechler Ranger Station and ends at Yellowstone’s west boundary west of Buffalo Lake. The trail leaves Bechler Ranger Station and immediately crosses small Wyoming Creek and reaches a junction with the Bechler Trail Cutoff
. Turn left and follow Boundary Creek Trail through 4 miles of lodgepole forests punctuated with an occasional small meadow (passing a junction with the Bechler Meadows Trail
at 1.7 miles). At 4 miles the trail crosses Bartlett Slough. A “slough” is sometimes defined as a slow moving brackish backwater. That pretty much describes Bartlett Slough. It can be fairly deep too. But the footing is good, and although crossing is no fun, it should not pose a problem.
At 4.5 miles, the trail breaks into beautiful Bechler Meadows and affords nice views to the east. At 5.3 miles Boundary Creek is crossed. The trail closely follows Boundary Creek for nearly a mile as it meanders through a lovely meadow. Look for moose in this area. At 6.2 miles, the trail splits from the creek and continues north along one of its tributaries. At 6.8 miles a junction with the Bechler Meadows Cutoff Trail
is passed. At this point the trail begins to climb – 350 feet in the next 2.5 miles – through mostly open country. At 8.5 miles to the right is a nice view of Silver Scarf Falls, a lovely 250 sloping cascade. Just past Silver Scarf a short spur trail to the left leads to an impressive view over 150-foot Dunanda Falls. “Dunanda” is the Shoshone Indian word for “straight down,” which well describes the plunge Boundary Creek takes.
Few continue past Dunanda. The trail continues north, closely following Boundary Creek for miles. At the 14 mile mark the creek and trail veer left. Shortly thereafter the trail passes 30-foot “Horseshoe Cascade” and lovely 15-foot “Deep Pool Falls.” At 16.3 miles 20 acre (fishless) Buffalo Lake is reached. At 17.6 miles, the trail ends, just over a mile west of Buffalo Lake.
It is possible (though not particularly recommended) to make a 38-mile thru-run from Bechler Ranger Station to Biscuit Basin (near Old Faithful
). In the past, the West Boundary Trail followed the park’s western boundary straight north all the way to West Yellowstone. Although no longer maintained, it is possible to follow what’s left of it and Yellowstone Park boundary markers 4 miles north to a junction with the Summit Lake Trail
. From there it’s another 16.5 miles to Biscuit Basin.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone
Flora & Fauna
Bechler Meadows has an impressive display of wildflowers, including one-to-two-foot purple lupine (distant relative of the Texas bluebonnet), elephanthead (growing in two-foot stocks covered with delicate pinkish-purple flowers, each of which remarkably resembles the head, ears and trunk of an elephant), and three-foot tall (and higher) purple stalks of larkspur.