Fragrant conifer forests, expansive scree fields, and gurgling streams pepper this challenging 4.6-mile out-and-back to the top of Avalanche Peak. The climb starts right from the trailhead, ascending through a dense forest of lodgepole pine and spruce while paralleling a bubbling stream. Keep an eye out for deer and elk that seek cover in the woods.
After 0.7 mile, cross a cascading alpine stream, then climb north up the drainage to a picturesque alpine basin dotted with wildflower-filled meadows and sub-alpine forests. Less than a mile later, the trail cuts across steep scree slopes, where the first clear views of Avalanche Peak are revealed to the northwest.
Crest Avalanche Peak’s broad, flower-dotted summit at mile 2.3, and take in bird’s-eye views of Yellowstone Lake and the surrounding Absaroka Range (several rock shelters provide a respite from the near-constant wind). Follow the same route back to your car.
GUIDEBOOK AND MAP: Yellowstone Treasures, by Janet Chapple ($24, yellowstonetreasures.com). Plan other trips in the park using BACKPACKER’s Yellowstone National Park page.
CONDITIONS: For current conditions and updates, go to nps.gov/yell/conditions.htm.
PERMIT: Overnight camping in Yellowstone National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/backcountryhiking.htm.
MORE PARK INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/
FREE TRIP PLANNERS Get news on vacation deals and lodging at myyellowstonepark.com
-Mapped by Jason Kauffman