Yellowstone National Park: Avalanche Peak

Ascend 2,000 feet in 2.3 miles on the stiff climb to the wind-swept summit of Avalanche Peak, a 10,568-foot mountain with prime views across Yellowstone National Park.

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.

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-Mapped by Jason Kauffman

Avalanche Peak

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.7



Location: 44.470591, -110.142905

Leaving the highway and trailhead behind, the trail immediately begins a steep climb through a dense forest of lodgepole pine and spruce.


Location: 44.472018, -110.142906

Follow the main path as it parallels a small, bubbling stream through the conifer forest. Watch for deer and elk that seek cover in these woods.


Location: 44.476159, -110.137865

Cross the first of two small streams, which are good water sources along this mostly dry hike.


Location: 44.477827, -110.137282

Cross a cascading alpine stream (stay on the main path to avoid trampling the delicate riparian vegetation). The trail climbs straight up the drainage, heading north.


Location: 44.482198, -110.13542

Enter a picturesque alpine basin dotted with wildflower-filled meadows, sub-alpine forests, and wildlife. Keep left as the trail begins climbing steeply again.


Location: 44.4817, -110.140714

The trail emerges from the forest into the open. Enjoy the expansive views as the trail traverses west across steep scree slopes.


Location: 44.483109, -110.142034

The first clear views of Avalanche Peak are revealed to the northwest. Continue hiking across rolling uplands dotted with whitebark pine trees bent by the wind.


Location: 44.484781, -110.14369

Continue the steep climb toward the summit (not visible from this point). Look for the low-growing wildflowers stunted by the high-altitude conditions. Ahead: You’ll crest the summit ridge in 0.1 mile.


Location: 44.48948, -110.140027

Crest Avalanche Peak’s broad summit. Several rock shelters on the flower-dotted summit provide an excellent break from the near-constant wind. Take in expansive views of Yellowstone Lake and the surrounding wind-swept Absaroka Range before retracing the route to your car.

Avalanche Peak

Location: 44.489495, -110.139699

Looking southwest from the summit of Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone Lake and much of central and southern Yellowstone National Park are visible. ©Jason Kauffman

Stream Crossing

Location: 44.476115, -110.137639

Trail crosses an unnamed stream cascading off of Avalanche Peak. ©Jason Kauffman

Smiling Chipmunk

Location: 44.482208, -110.136523

A chipmunk smiles from a boulder field in an alpine basin. ©Jason Kauffman

Scree Slopes

Location: 44.48178, -110.142016

Hiking through the scree-covered upper slopes of Avalanche Peak. ©Jason Kauffman

Hoyt Peak

Location: 44.487505, -110.141974

Looking southeast from the broad summit of Avalanche Peak provides amazing views of Hoyt Peak and the expansive Absaroka Range beyond. ©Jason Kauffman

Mule Deer

Location: 44.47391, -110.140257

A mule deer doe watches cautiously from the dense conifer forests gracing Avalanche Peak’s lower slopes. ©Jason Kauffman