“An out-and-back trail with stunning canyon views, thermal features, and pleasant campsites.”
— Chris Higby
Features: River/Creek — Views — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs
A few very steep (but short) sections near the thermal basin would be difficult to run.
From the Glacial Boulder Trailhead near Inspiration Point, the first part of the trail is mostly flat as it meanders through a section of woods left untouched by the 1988 fires. For the first 1.5 miles, the trail remains very close to the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with frequent overlooks. Several of the overlooks offer impressive views of Silver Cord Cascade tumbling into the canyon. From mile 1.5 until 3.3, the trail remains very pleasant and mostly flat but the views disappear due to the forested environment. At mile 2.8, bear right to continue towards Seven Mile Hole (left goes to Mt. Washburn).
At mile 3.3, the trail begins the descent to the bottom of the canyon. At times, the trail is very steep and loose scree makes for poor traction. At mile 3.8, the trail passes by an igloo-shaped cone for an extinct hot spring. At mile 4.1, the trail enters an active thermal area with expansive views. The hot spring straight ahead (towards the canyon) as the trail enters the thermal area is the most impressive. You can hear it roaring from a distance and it puts off a lot of steam. Leaving the thermal area, the descent gets less steep and approaches the canyon walls again. At one point, another interesting cascade is visible across the canyon.
At the bottom, the trail reaches Sulphur Creek where it runs into the Yellowstone River. A number of small hot springs pour directly into the river and release a typical Yellowstone odor here. During the early-season, the force of the Yellowstone River is quite impressive. This makes a pleasant stop for lunch before turning around.
Flora & Fauna
A few meadows along the way have wildflowers in June-July. Elk and deer frequent the woods. You might spot a black bear or grizzly bear as well, but hopefully from a distance!