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Yellowstone National Park: Osprey Falls

This 8-mile out-and-back in Yellowstone National Park descends a cliffside trail to the base of Osprey Falls, a 150-foot waterfall that pours into Sheepeater Canyon.

Rating

Dwarfed in size by only the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Sheepeater Canyon—named for a band of stalwart, sheep-hunting Indians—serves up mind-blowing vistas and access to the magnificent, 150-foot Osprey Falls. The 8-mile trek starts along an abandoned gravel and dirt road, which skirts a meadow where elk often congregate.
After half a mile, the trail begins a moderate but steady climb toward the canyon ridge and the Osprey Falls Trail junction. Along the way, take in dizzying views of Sheepeater Canyon, which plunges 800-feet to the Gardner River, and sweeping panoramas of Gardiner Canyon and the Fort Yellowstone Historic District to the north.
Begin the stiff descent into the canyon at mile 3.2, traversing razor-thin switchbacks often less than one foot wide. After completing this precipitous 0.8-mile stretch of downhill, hike upstream through the canyon to the 150-foot Osprey Falls. The trail ends 30 feet from the falls, but experienced hikers can scramble closer to the base of the falls (use caution navigating the slick rocks). Before starting your return trip, grab a snack in the small cave adjacent to the falls. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.

MORE PARK INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/.
-Mapped by Jeff Chow

To Trailhead

From Tower Junction, head northwest on Grand Loop Rd./US-212 for 18.1 miles. Turn left at Grand Loop Rd./US-89 and follow for 1.3 miles. Turn left at Yak Camp Rd. and follow 0.2 mile to trailhead parking.

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