Fountain Paint Pot Trail
ElevationAscent: 35' 11 m
Descent: -27' -8 m
High: 7,315' 2,230 m
Low: 7,288' 2,221 m
GradeAvg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 6% (3°)
Current trail conditions
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“One of the best thermal area boardwalks in Yellowstone!”— Tom Carter
Continue straight at the junction and soon you'll see Silex Spring. This clear pool reveals it’s beautiful hard rock bottom, made of silicon dioxide, or silica. “Silex” is Latin for silica. Just up the hill is the star of the show – the Fountain Paint Pot. It is one of the largest and most colorful mudpots in the park. In early summer it is watery from abundant rain and snow. By late summer, it’s “bloops” and “bloups” are quite thick. The mud is composed of clay minerals and fine particles of silica.
Just beyond the mudpot, you’ll find a fumarole, or steam vent. The hiss and roar of a fumarole comes from gases - steam, carbon dioxide, and a little hydrogen sulfide - rushing from the earth through the vent. Take the boardwalk to the right to view Leather Pool. This spring underwent dramatic changes after the Hebgen Lake earthquake of 1959. Prior to the earthquake, it was a warm pool that supported leather-like brown bacteria. After the earthquake, water temperatures rose to boiling and killed the microorganisms. Since that time, Leather Pool has cooled and once again supports the brown bacteria.
Next up is Red Spouter, which was born during the Hebgen earthquake. In the spring and early summer its pools splash muddy water that often has a red tone. Later in the summer, when the water table is lower, Red Spouter becomes a hissing fumarole.
Down the hill you'll find Clepsydra geyser in almost constant eruption from several vents. Its name is Greek for water clock, because the geyser used to erupt regularly every three minutes. Since the 1959 Hebgen earthquake, however, Clepsydra erupts almost without pause. Nearby Jet Geyser, during its active period, erupts every few minutes up to 20 feet.
From Clepsydra, the trail loops back to the left and continues to the parking area.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park