Hayden Valley Loop - Yellowstone National Park - September 17, 2021


Apr 27, 2016
What a great looking hike. A slightly shorter version might make its way onto my Yellowstone day hike list.


May 16, 2016
What a great looking hike. A slightly shorter version might make its way onto my Yellowstone day hike list.

Map out something like I suggested above. The old road to Alum Creek and then Glen Africa Basin and then back towards the road would probably work out to be 16ish miles and would be a great day hike. Highly recommended even if all you see are bison, other animals would be bonus features.

Tim Valentine

May 24, 2015
Great report. Any wolf sign out there? I know in May we were watching a pack that may have had a rendezvous or den site in the "island of trees" just West of the road near the Creek.



Dec 23, 2013
Great report. Any wolf sign out there? I know in May we were watching a pack that may have had a rendezvous or den site in the "island of trees" just West of the road near the Creek.


We heard wolves very early in our hike. It sounded to me like they were to the south of us along the tree line at the south end of the valley. I believe we did see some wolf scat along the old stagecoach road where it runs next to the tree line on the south end of the valley.
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Jan 24, 2014
Finishing off my third Pop-tart, I opened the door of the car to a chilling 17 degree morning at the pullout near Trout Creek in Hayden Valley. As I try to bend my cold knees to limber them up a tad, I gaze to the west amazed that this will be my seventh substantial hike into Hayden Valley over the years. After doing the Mary Mountain Trail years ago, I never really thought that I would return, but all my time in Yellowstone has told me that this valley is the heartbeat of the Park, and if I am lucky enough, I will return hopefully another seven times to feel its pulse over and over again.

This day hike was a 21 mile loop that started and ended at Trout Creek essentially. We would head west, following the old stagecoach road up Trout Creek on the south end of the valley. Once we reached the western end of the valley, we would then make our way off-trail to explore Alum Creek as we headed northeast. At the point where Alum Creek almost meets up with the Mary Mountain Trail, we hopped on the trail and headed east on the north end of the valley. Before reaching the road though, we broke off to the south and made our way to Crater Hills and the thermal area located there.

This was @TractorDoc and @wsp_scott 's first time doing a hike in Hayden Valley and I sort of promised them that they would get to see a grizzly or two, but that never panned out for us on this day. Sorry guys! :( This trip turned out to be all about the bison as we ran into four separate herds, along with multiple lone bulls. It will be interesting to hear my two hiking partners impressions of the valley. It certainly is a lot to take in in a singe day. Maybe they will do it again with me sometime in the future. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

I had four goals for this hike, the first being to find the old Army snowshoe cabin, second, to revisit Larry's Lunch Counter, third, to explore Glen Africa Basin, and last, to pick up the stagecoach road that runs north and south to Crater Hills. Fortunately for us, we were able to do all three.

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Overview map of our 21 mile loop through Hayden Valley

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On the old road before the sun has come up. Hint for the day - Frozen sagebrush is hard on the shins. :)

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Ah, some sunshine at last. The sun angle brings out the old ruts pretty well in this shot. Heading west though the southern end of the valley

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Just think what it must have been like to ride a stagecoach across the valley 140 years ago.

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One of the casualties in the valley

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This one is more recent

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Mount Washburn to the north

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This Bull ponders our intent

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Gives one the extent of the valley

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I always love this view of the old stagecoach roadbed cutting through the hillside

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We'll be heading up through the trees ahead, just left of the upper center of this shot

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Well, no grizzly sighting on this hike, but we did run into some scat along our way

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Watching our every move
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The lovely rolling hills of Hayden Valley with Violet Hot Springs off in the distance to the north.

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A small piece of a dish or bowl perhaps at Larry's Lunch Counter. Larry's is where stagecoach riders would stop for lunch on their way from Lower Geyser Basin to Lake as they made their way across the Park

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Some thick colored glass

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The old Army snowshoe cabin

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Heading towards Glen Africa Basin

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There has been lots of death in the basin. Bones were strewn everywhere.

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Thermal feature in Glen Africa

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Thermal feature

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Thermal feature in the basin

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Next up is Alum Creek

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Absolutely loved the hike down Alum

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The meandering Alum Creek

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Alum Creek

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Bison at Alum Creek

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Alum Creek

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More Alum

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A collared bison. :( For those who have hiked/backpacked with me can attest, I don't go around the herds, I make my way through them. This might have made Dave and Scott a bit nervous at first, but they caught on quickly. :)

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Approaching another herd and the Mary Mountain Trail

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Bison in Hayden - it doesn't get any better than that.

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A lone bull

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Alum Creek viewed from the Mary Mountain Trail

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Getting ready to ford Alum Creek on our way to Crater Hills

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Picking up the old stagecoach road just to the north of Crater Hills. In the distance, you can make out the ruts crossing the valley

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Arriving at Crater Hills

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Violently, bubbling thermal pool at Crater Hills

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View from the top of Sulphur Mountain

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Looking west from up high

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View of the old stagecoach road, heading up the hillside, running to the southeast from Crater Hills

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Leaving Crater Hills on the old roadbed

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The bluffs above Trout Creek and traffic at a bison jam on the Grand Loop Road

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Trout Creek and the Yellowstone River flowing through Hayden Valley near the hikes end.

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Trout Creek signpost with @wsp_scott walking the road back to the pullout where we began at the crack of dawn earlier in the day.

Well, this ended a spectacular ten days in Yellowstone for me. I did have one more day hike before heading back to Salt Lake though, as I had left my Steripen :( at the campsite on Gneiss Creek a week ago and I wanted to go back to see if it was still there.

In my opinion, this is the quintessential day hike in the Park. If you are heading to Yellowstone to backpack, or maybe just hit the tourist spots, set aside a day for an exploration of Hayden Valley. I don't think that you will be disappointed.

Dave and Scott, please add some truth, humor and your perspective to this report when you get a chance. The BCP audience needs an accurate account of this, and since you both seem to be facts driven, I will leave it in your hands to sort the chaff from the wheat so to speak. :scatman:

The End
this is a great route !!! I have done Mary Mountain and always wondered about a hike that would take me into the Valley. Let me ask about thermals: are they obvious ? I dont want to hike in an area and all of a sudden become chicken soup. I found a thermal in a bison trail about mile 5 in Mary Mountain (coming from the East) that was very nice and wondered what else in hidden in Hayden. Thanks so much for showing your route !!!!!


Aug 21, 2018
Let me ask about thermals: are they obvious ?
Not to trying to overstep Hugh with a reply, but can at least offer my opinion.

For the most part the thermal areas are somewhat clustered together. Up until we reached Alum Creek I don't recall seeing a one. Once you arrive at a thermal area its best to pay attention. The areas before and after Glen Africa Basin along Alum Creek had a number of hot springs hiding amongst the grasses.

Hayden holds several areas where thermal activity is clustered together. Glen Africa Basin, Violet Hot Springs, and Crater Hills are all examples.

In most cases you are probably more likely to step in a buffalo chip vs. a thermal pool. . . best to pay attention either way!
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