There are literally thousands of Wyoming hiking trails to explore for novices and experienced hikers alike. Listing all of them would require an entire book, but you can still learn about some of the more popular places. Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are two of the most renowned places to hike in the state, and there are also a number of great spots outside of these parks.
Yellowstone National Park offers over 1100 miles of hiking trails. Yellowstone is open year round, but due to unpredictable weather, trail conditions and possible wildlife encounters, it is wise to check in with the ranger station before hitting the trail. There you can learn any issues that you should consider for that day which may impact your hike.
If you are planning more than a day hike, keep in mind that a permit is required for overnight stays. These permits can be obtained from the ranger stations and visitor centers in the park. Permits can be obtained in person no more than 48 hours in advance of your stay or you may secure a Backcountry Use Permit in advance by mailing or faxing in an application. Plan your trip with the Backcountry Trip Planner found on the National Park Service website.
Wyoming hiking trails in Yellowstone are divided by the area they are in.
- Canyon Area: The Canyon Area offers seven hiking trails. They range from easy to strenuous and may be anything from a three hour stroll to an overnight adventure depending on your fitness and the time of year you visit.
- Grant Village: Grant Village offers six trails to hike. Difficulty is easy to moderate so most of these hikes are nice for beginners or those with limited physical fitness.
- Madison: There are three hiking trails near Madison area within the National Park. The Purple Mountain trail is moderately difficult while the Harlequin Lake and Two Ribbons trails are both easy.
- Mammoth: Near Mammoth, there are eight hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous, though most are considered moderate in difficulty.
- Norris: There are seven hiking trails near Norris. Most are easy to moderate, but the Monument Geyser Basin trail starts easy and becomes difficult, so be prepared!
- Old Faithful Area: There are many day-hikes around Old Faithful. Many of them are easy trails suitable for beginners, though some are considered strenuous to moderately strenuous.
- Tower-Roosevelt Area: The Tower-Roosevelt area offers hiking trails that are all moderately strenuous and that come in many lengths.
Hiking Grand Teton
Grand Teton National Park is another popular hiking destination. Grand Teton is best for more advanced hikers due to the rugged terrain, however there are a few easy hikes as well. There are 17 trailheads, each offering a selection of hiking trails. To make it easier to plan your hike, you can download topo maps for many trailheads at the National Park Service website. Here you can also download a hiking brochure that details each trailhead with specifics on each trail including round trip time, miles of trail and the difficulty of each hike.
- Flagg Ranch: The two trails at Flagg Ranch include Polecat Creek Loop and Flagg Canyon. Both are considered easy trails.
- Colter Bay: Colter Bay offers three trails that range from easy to moderate.
- Jackson Lake Lodge: There are two easy trails at Jackson Lake Lodge. Both ould be easily completed together in a day.
- Two Ocean Lake: The three trails at Two Oceans Lake are moderate to strenuous in difficulty.
- Signal Mountain: Signal Mountain has one 6.8 mile loop that takes about four hours to hike. It is moderate in difficulty.
- Leigh Lake: Three hikes are offered at Leigh Lake ranging from easy to strenuous.
- String Lake: There are two trails at String Lake. One is an easy two-hour hike while the other is very strenuous and will take about 12 hours to complete.
- Jenny Lake/Cascade Canyon: Seven hiking trails are in the Jenny Lake/Cascade Canyon area. They range from easy to strenuous. A fee is charged for the shuttle boat that crosses Jenny Lake.
- Garnet Canyon to Lower Saddle: This strenuous hike is through Garnet Canyon under the shadow of Grand Teton. There is an elevation gain of around 6,000 feet over the course of the 5.4 mile trail, so it's best for experienced hikers who are in good physical condition.
- Taggart Lake Trail: The Taggart Lake trail is a four mile loop that is generally only accessible from May to September. The trail sees alpine meadows, beautiful Taggart Lake, and huge views of the surrounding mountains.
- Death Canyon: There are four hikes from the Death Canyon trailhead ranging from moderate to very strenuous.
- Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve: The big Preserve Trail Loop is around three miles long. It follows the southern end of Phelps Lake and provides glimpses into the area's ecosystems.
- Granite Canyon: Three major trails can be found within the Granite Canyon area. They are all longer than ten miles. Two are strenuous and one has a moderate degree of difficulty.
- Top of the Tram: Five hikes can be explored from the Top of the Tram on Rendezvous Mountain. A fee is charged for the tram itself; once you arrive at the top, you can opt for an easy 10-minute hike or choose a longer option with greater difficulty.
- Teton Canyon: There are two strenuous hikes at Teton Canyon. The hike to Table Mountain provides 11 miles of spectacular views, while the route to Devil's Stairs is 4.9 miles.
Less Well-Known Hiking Areas
While Teton and Yellowstone are obviously the big draws to tourists in Wyoming, this doesn't mean all the great trails only exist in these two parks. In fact, there are a number of other places that see much lower visitation and are really wild.
- Sinks Canyon State Park Trails: There are a few great day hikes throughout Sinks Canyon State Park, including some great canyon views and lots of big sky. The park is located in west-central Wyoming just at the edge of the Tetons.
- Gooseberry Badlands Scenic Overlook Trail: Located just outside of Gooseberry Creek in north-central Wyoming, the Gooseberry Badlands Overlook Trail is a decently easy hike with excellent views.
- Lost Twin Lakes Trail: The Lost Twin Lakes Trail is located in the southern end of Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming and offers some stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The hike is a bit strenuous, so hikers should go expecting a workout.
- Bucking Mule Falls Trail: This is one of the more difficult hikes you'll run into in Bighorn National Forest, though the payoff is great. Lots of great views, pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife make this a trek for anyone who wants some real solitude.
- Death Canyon to Fox Creek Pass: One of the longest hikes in the whole state, this trek goes through the lush Jedediah Smith Wilderness. Because it's over 18 miles long, this hike should either be planned as a very early hike by fit hikers or as an overnight outing for more leisurely hikers.
Whichever Wyoming hiking trails you decide to try, be sure to carry basic emergency gear just to be on the safe side. A simple day hike can turn into a disaster if you are not prepared. Also, be sure to follow park rules regarding fires, waste disposal, camping and permits, off-trail hiking and dealing with wildlife. Always be sure to check with the park rangers for current trail conditions and make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to be back. Arrive properly prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions as well.