Hikes in Old Faithful Area - Yellowstone Hiking Trails

What do you think of when you hear the words Old Faithful? Of course Yellowstone and geysers are on the top of that list. It's true; Old Faithful is the world’s most famous geyser. Many of Yellowstone’s visitors come to the park, wait for an eruption of Old Faithful, and then move on to explore other areas of Yellowstone. Make sure to take the time and enjoy the trails and hikes in the Old Faithful area. Hiking in Yellowstone is the best way to see grandeurs of nature and the less viewed wonders of the park. Here are a few fun suggestions of places to explore in that area…

Trail to Grand Prismatic Overlook, Fairy Falls, and New Imperial Geyser

This is one of the most popular hikes in Yellowstone. Start at the Fairly Falls Trailhead and work your way across the old Fountain Flats service road towards the newly built overlook of Grand Prismatic, the world’s most iconic hot spring. Finished in 2017, this overlook gives people the opportunity to gaze upon the beautiful rainbow array of thermophilic bacteria mats of Grand Prismatic Spring. The spur trail to the overlook is only 105 ft. elevation gain. Totally worth the view! The nice thing is that you can keep walking down the other side and don't have to backtrack.

Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook in Yellowstone - Old Faithful Hiking Trails
Continue to the Fairy Falls Trail. The trail to the falls is on your left. Once you take that turn and start making your way towards the falls, you will be enclosed in a lodgepole pine forest. I recommend bug spray once you enter this area. It's a nice flat cruise from here to the 200 ft. Fairy Falls. For most hikers in Yellowstone, this is the ultimate destination! If you have a bit more time and energy, continue towards Spray and New Imperial Geysers.

Cross the creek below Fairy Falls and continue on the trail until you eventually come to a trail junction. Turn left and just a short ways down the trail is an offshoot that will bring you to a thermal creek. The first thermal feature across the creek is Spray Geyser. Spray erupts frequently in small bursts. Follow the trail along the thermal stream to the Imperial Geyser pool. Imperial Geyser is the deep blue pool in the middle. The one that is erupting these days is New Imperial Geyser. There are also mud pots in the area. As always, please be careful while in Yellowstone’s backcountry thermal basins. From this point follow your footsteps back to the Fairy Falls Trailhead where you started.

Fairy Falls and Grand Prismatic Spring Trail Info:

Distance: 3.6 miles (5.8 KM)
Elevation Gain: Minimal – Short climb to Grand Prismatic Overlook
Trail Rating: Easy to Moderate
Trail Type: Out and Back
Notes: Add a mile of hiking to see Imperial and Spray Geyser

Old Faithful Geyser to Morning Glory Pool

The trail to Biscuit Basin from Old Faithful is a great hike for beginners in Yellowstone. Start from the Old Faithful Inn, take the tar path leading towards Morning Glory Pool and beyond to experience a bit of the backcountry while also exploring the highest concentration of geysers in the world. As a reminder, make sure to always stay on the designated trails in the geyser basins. This path can also be great for bikes and skiers during the winter months.  

First, you'll hike past the giant cone of Castle Geyser. Castle Geyser is a predictable geyser and if it's within the eruption window make sure to stay and enjoy the spectacle. Daisy, Grotto, Riverside, Fan and Mortar Geysers and many other thermal features are scattered along the way as well. After you reach Morning Glory Pool the tar returns to dirt and the trail continues on to Biscuit Basin.

Grotto Geyser in Yellowstone

On the way back to Old Faithful, you may want to turn onto the boardwalks at Grotto Geyser and explore many more geothermal features. The boardwalks go past an array of famous geysers including the Giant, Giantess, Grand, The Lion Group, Sawmill and Beehive geysers, just to name a few. There are around 150 active geysers and many more various thermal features in the Upper Geyser Basin. To learn more about the geysers and unique geology of Yellowstone, a guided tour may be a good fit.

Old Faithful to Morning Glory Pool Trail Info:
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 KM)
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Rating: Easy
Trail Type: Out and Back

Hike to Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park

Mystic Falls Trail in Yellowstone

The Mystic Falls Trail in Yellowstone is a short and easy day hike to a 70 ft waterfall. The trail starts from Biscuit Basin. Biscut Basin is a small thermal area named after the silica deposits resembling biscuits. According to numerous sources, the naming of the area dates back to the 1880s. Sapphire Pool is the most famous thermal in the basin.  

As the boardwalk ends at Biscuit Basin, look for the Mystic Falls Trail. Be sure to pay attention to the trail signs and don’t accidentally wander on the Summit Lake Trail (unless you want to go to Summit Lake). The fastest way to Mystic Falls is staying left and taking the overlook trail on the descent back to Biscuit Basin. The main trail climbs gradually with views of the fall only 1.2 miles up the trail. After taking in the views, continue past Mystic Falls to the fenced overlook. From the overlook you can see Old Faithful, Firehole River, and the Upper Geyser Basin. Take the trail back to Biscuit Basin.  

Mystic Falls Trail Info:

Distance: 4 miles (6.5 KM)
Elevation Gain: 500 ft
Trail Rating: Easy to Moderate
Trail Type: Loop Trail

Hiking in Old Faithful


Old Faithful to Observation Point 

Escape the madness of seeing Old Faithful with the masses. View the popular geyser from Observation Point. From the Old Faithful Visitors Center, walk past the lodge, head down the hill to a bridge that crosses the Firehole River, head up towards Geyser Hill, and take the trail on the right side of the path that leads to a commanding view of the largest concentration of geysers in the world.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to make it up to the viewing area. The trail consists of switchbacks that bring you to the viewing point. On a side note, I remember one time being most of the way up without a good viewing point and missing the eruption. Don't be like me, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to reach the top before eruption time.

If you are lucky, other geysers in the basin will be erupting as well, which can be seen from Observation Point. To add a nice little side trip, follow the trail that continues to Solitaire Geyser. If not, you can turn around and head back down the same way you came up.

Old Faithful to Observation Point Info:
Distance: 1.6 Miles (Add .9 miles for side trip to Solitaire Geyser)
Elevation Gain: 230 feet of elevation gain
Trail Rating: Moderate
Trail Type: Out and Back

As you can see, plenty of options while hiking near Old Faithful in Yellowstone. For more information about guided hikes and tours in Yellowstone, give us a call at 406-599-2960 or send an email. Hope to see you on the trail!


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