Grand Canyon Area
Seven Mile Hole Trail
Distance: 11 miles round-trip
Duration: 6-8 hours
Elevation: 8,000 feet
Trailhead: Glacial Boulder pullout on the road to Inspiration Point
This trail provides fantastic views for the first mile or so, minus the crowds at nearby Inspiration Point. Look for Silver Cord Cascade, a thin ribbon of water dropping over the opposite wall of the canyon, but be careful not to go too close to the very loose edge—it’s a very long way down! The trail switchbacks steeply to the Yellowstone River, passing odoriferous thermal areas en route (do not approach these).
Many anglers come to Seven Mile Hole (it’s seven miles downriver from Lower Falls), while other folks come to relax along the river. Save your energy for the strenuous 1,400-foot climb back up, and bring lots of drinking water. Three campsites are available near the base of the trail for those who want to make this an overnight hike (backcountry permit required).
South Rim Trail
Distance: 6 miles round-trip
Duration: 2-3 hours
Elevation: 7,700 feet
Trailhead: east end of Chittenden Bridge across from Wapiti Lake Picnic Area
This hike follows the almost-level and partly paved South Rim Trail two miles to Artist Point, providing many viewpoints en route, including an optional hike down Uncle Tom’s Trail, a steep 500-foot drop to Lower Falls. The least-traveled part of the trail (it’s called Ribbon Lake Trail) continues eastward along the top, providing an abrupt escape from the mob scene at Artist Point, as well as a chance to see the kaleidoscopically colored canyon, hear the roar of the river from far below, and watch for squirrels and birds. But be careful to stay away from the edge, where the rocks are loose. It’s doubtful that anyone could survive such a fall, and I once came perilously close to testing that postulate.
The trail continues to Lily Pad Lake, where a spur path leads uphill for a wonderful view of the canyon and Silver Cord Cascade. With a drop of 1,200 feet, Silver Cord is the highest falls in Yellowstone. You can return the same way or via a number of loop hikes in the area; get the park’s Canyon Area Trail Guide for details. (As an aside, the old trail to Point Sublime has been closed because of unsafe conditions along the canyon rim.)
© Don Pitcher from Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton, 5th Edition