Down River Ski Loop Trail
ElevationAscent: 88' 27 m
Descent: -88' -27 m
High: 6,687' 2,038 m
Low: 6,603' 2,012 m
GradeAvg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 4% (2°)
Popular runs nearby
Coffin Lakes Hike
12.4 mi 20.0 km • Out and Back • 2,087 ft Ascent 636.2 m Ascent
Observation Point-Geyser Hill
2.3 mi 3.6 km • Loop • 263 ft Ascent 80.04 m Ascent
Mary Mountain-Nez Perce
20.9 mi 33.7 km • Point to Point • 834 ft Ascent 254.26 m Ascent
4.3 mi 7.0 km • Out and Back • 1,285 ft Ascent 391.59 m Ascent
Howard Eaton Trail: Golden Gate
4.3 mi 7.0 km • Point to Point • 206 ft Ascent 62.9 m Ascent
Boiling River Trail
1.3 mi 2.1 km • Out and Back • 49 ft Ascent 14.97 m Ascent
Navigate on-trail with our free app
“Easy Yellowstone ski loop with great views of the Madison River.”— Tom Carter
After cruising through the flat, straight, rather boring 1.2-mile Connector to Riverside Ski Trails you arrive at a junction. To the left is the Down River Ski Loop (to the right is the Up River Ski Loop). Turn left and begin your adventure.
In .1 miles take the right fork and head down the hill toward the river. The trail is mostly flat and gradually down hill on the way out. Soon you are along the Madison River. The river forms at the joining of the Firehole and Gibbon rivers about 12 miles up stream. The river ends near Three Forks, Montana where it joins the Jefferson and Gallatin rivers to form the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark named these rivers in 1805 to honor three individuals who were important to the expedition – President Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State James Madison (who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase), and Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin (who paid for the trip).
About 1.3 miles from the Down River Loop trailhead you'll pass the Down River Loop Cutoff. If you want to reduce the trip by 1.4 miles, then take a left here, otherwise continue straight. As the trail continues along the Madison, look for waterfowl including trumpeter swans and Canada geese. You might also spot an osprey or bald eagle circling above searching for a meal of brown, rainbow, or cutthroat trout or large whitefish that populate the river.
At the 2.1-mile mark the trail loops back to the left and enters the trees for the return trip. Many like the river so much they just turn around and follow their ski tracks back. If you continue the loop it's just 1.7 miles through the trees back to the junction.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.
Run this trail?
We need help with the following missing trail information:
Need to Know, Runner Notes
Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.
Land Manager: National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park