The nearly all-downhill, 18.5-mile Yellowstone River Trail is an early-season favorite of park workers because of its low elevation. Start by winding through a forest of Douglas fir, then descend 600 feet through wildflower-dotted grassland to the Yellowstone River suspension bridge. Cross it, then climb a rocky canyon, passing the Coyote Creek Trail junction (2 miles); switchbacks take you through open sageland to views of Electric Peak. Continue along a flat, forested riverside to the Blacktrail Bridge (9.8 miles) and cross through fields of lichen-encrusted boulders before dropping down to the river. Pass campsites at 12.4 and 13.5 miles, heeding private-property signs for the final half mile to the trailhead.
Info: Park news and trail updates: ynp.blogspot.com.
Backcountry office: (307) 344-2163; www.nps.gov/yell.
-Hike provided by Andrew Dean Nystrom, author of Top Trails: Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks (Wilderness Press).