Friday, June 20, 2008

Osprey Falls - YNP

I just returned from a trip to Yellowstone Park and my most notable hike was to Osprey Falls. I've been to the falls before but this was the first time in the spring when the water levels are higher. I enjoyed the hike and the falls are magnificent. This hike, starting at the trailhead near Rustic Falls on the main loop road, is about 9 miles long with an elevation gain of about 800 feet. Nearly all the elevation change is during the last mile of the hike, you descend steeply into the gorge of the Gardiner River along the Sheepeater cliff. You cannot see the falls until you are there although you can hear them a long ways up. The descending trail is a bit steep and gravelly, a good place to use hiking poles. The first part of the trail is along an old road which now allows bicycle traffic and is quite easy and open. As we hiked back along the road, we had views of the Gallatin range which were nearly snow covered and shining in the the sun. We didn't see many animals at all except for a colony or marmots on the way into the gorge. I have seen grizzly, elk, and coyotes in the area before.

If you want a longer or more strenuous hike, you can hike to the summit of Bunsen Peak and down the other side and pick up the Osprey Falls trail near the junction of the road and the Bunsen Peak trail. Or you can hike from the other end of the bicycle road which rejoins the main road nearer Mammoth.

I don't yet have a picture of the falls or the mountains but both were dramatic. We met several hikers along the trail, this isn't a hike you will usually have to yourself.



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