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Hiking solo.

Surrey, UK
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Hiking solo.

Hi all,

I am doing a four day visit to Yellowstone at the end of July - staying at Lake Lodge - and I would like to do a couple of the shorter day hikes. I have downloaded a few routes from the NPS Yellowstone site and I also have the Yellowstone Day Hikes (Ranger's Guide To) book on its way from Amazon.

I have been reading about the bears and what precautions to take to avoid problems but I was wondering if it is actually safe to hike the trails alone.

Ones I have earmarked so far are:

Elephant Back Mountain at Fishing Bridge/Lake Village, Lone Star Geyser at Old Faithful, Cascade Lake at Canyon Village

- but I am open to suggestions of any alternatives.

I regularly walk reasonable (8-10 miles) distances so I'm fairly fit but having had a heart attack 10 years ago I would prefer nothing too strenuous. :-)

I also noted the following - "The trail can be wet and muddy through July with many biting insects."

How wet and muddy?



Mount Washburn
Mountains, National Parks
Old Gardiner Road
Nature & Wildlife Areas, National Parks, Mountains
Elephant Back Mountain
Mountains, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Hiking Trails
N. Idaho
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11. Re: Hiking solo.

I am sure that hissing swan would be very shocked to get a face full of pepper spray!

I think it is a good idea to wait and see how you feel and what is going on when you arrive before you decide on Beartooth.

If you don't do Beartooth, I would definitely enter and leave thru different gates. I have timed it from my home in N. Idaho (via Interstate 90) and it is shorter time-wise to the West gate than the North gate for me. From the West gate to Lake is 56 miles, from the North gate (via Norris) to Lake is 55 miles so not much difference.

The quickest way from I90 down to West Yellowstone is to exit at #256 which is Cardwell. At the end of the exit ramp, turn right. At the intersection you will see a large brown (the color for National Parks) road sign routing you to the left for Yellowstone. Don't take that, but go straight instead. This will put you on a smaller county road for about 15 miles where you will intersect US287 and turn right. You will follow 287 in to West Yellowstone. You will go thru Ennis MT which is a cool little town. There is a very neat sculpture of a fly fisherman at the main intersection where you will turn left.

From either the North gate or West gate, Spokane is an easy drive. You will gain an hour when you head west and that helps out. Of course you have lost the same hour just days before, lol. The time change is at Lookout Pass on the Idaho/Montana line.

Googlemaps give the mileage from Missoula to West Yellowstone via Cardwell as 267 while the mileage from Missoula to Gardiner is 282, so really only 15 miles difference.

Whatever you do, you will have a wonderful time!


Surrey, UK
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12. Re: Hiking solo.

Thanks Pam,

I've plotted your route on Google Maps and saved it for future reference.

Hopefully, if I have the time, I will enter by the NE entrance as that road looks very interesting, and if I do I will leave by the West entrance and follow your directions back to I90.

I had not realised I would be crossing time zones but it should have occurred to me as I did the same crossing the Hoover Dam on the way to the Grand Canyon from Vegas.

We don't have things like that on this little island of ours - it only takes the sun 20 minutes to cross from one side to the other. :-)

Thanks again for all the advice,


Billings, Montana
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13. Re: Hiking solo.

I know it's not always easy but if you can figure out some way to work in driving over Beartooth Pass and entering Yellowstone Park through the northeast entrance you will not regret it. That route is my #1 choice for entering the park so I go over it multiple times each year. I never grow tired of it.

Last summer my grandson and I did a 4 day backpacking trip over the Beartooths. The following is a trip advisor thread that has a link for facebook photo album of the hike along with a very short video that will show what the area looks like. There are some absolutely beautiful lakes and scenery on the south side of the pass.



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Surrey, UK
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63 posts
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14. Re: Hiking solo.

Thanks Deb,

From what you and Pam have said it seems that I need to try to do the Beartooth Pass on the journey down. Hopefully I can get a real early start from Missoula and fit it in.

Just been reading your trip report and looking at your Facebook photos - looks like you had a wonderful trip there. And I must add that you do not look anywhere old enough to have a grandson that big. :-)


Edited: 1:11 pm, January 07, 2013
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15. Re: Hiking solo.

Be bear aware and make some noise while you hike and you will be fine. Its amazing how we tend to look at our feet when we are hiking in such beautiful surroundings.. Bear spray will also reassure you. There is a second hand sports store in Jackson Hole that buys and sells unused bear spray at a discount.

wet and muddy will depend on the snowpack.

Hudson Valley
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16. Re: Hiking solo.

You've already gotten a lot of great advice. I would also say take the Beartooth Highway and enter through the NE entrance if you can.

I'm not 100% of the timing since we usually visit in August, but I think in June the wildflowers should be pretty terrific. I would normally recommend an easy walk/hike at Island Lake - but I suspect in June the trail conditions might not be ideal (depending on snowpack this year).

In addition to your hikes, I hope you are planning a walk around the Old Faithful geyser basin (can't think of the official name). This is one of my favorite areas and while it won't be an eight mile hike, you can still make a pretty decent long walk out of it. Stop by the visitor's center to get the prediction times for the geysers and plan a hike around the times.

Yellowstone Nat...
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17. Re: Hiking solo.

One word of caution: don't assume that two days in a car will get you acclimatized to anything but sitting a lot. Be alert to the possibilities of altitude effects.

And you are right to carry bear spray, even on well-travelled routes. Wapiti Lake trail was well travelled in 2011.

Try stopping in at a visitor center and see if the Ranger will suggest some other-than-the-usual hikes. Some of those are the best.


18. Re: Hiking solo.

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