Hiking Elephant Back Mountain in Yellowstone National Park

On our August trip to Jellystone, Heather and I braved the rain (drizzle) to walk up Elephant Back Mountain. It’s a well-known trail in the Lake area, but neither of us had done it.

We drove to the trailhead, but then realized it’s a really short walk from the Lake Lodge cabins where we were staying. Oops. We were on our way north, anyway.

The uphill trail is well kept. We didn’t see a lot of people, but that may have been due to the weather. We did see a ton of mushrooms, mosses, lichens, and bryophytes–definitely due to the weather.

The trail is in the trees most of the way, with periodic views of Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Range. It was the perfect mix of “steep enough to get your heart rate up,” but not “so steep you can’t talk.” Heather and I always have a lot to talk about. I think we talk so much that the bear spray we each carry on our hip is unnecessary.

We passed some people who had seen a bear, but no bruin sitings for us.

The well maintained Elephant Back trail is double wide part of the way.
We ate a lot of huckleberries along the way.
Love lichen!
Heather points out the Lake Hotel from a viewpoint.
Pine drops use fungi in the soil to extract nutrients from tree roots. So cool!
Such a sweet little community.

Plan Your Own Trip

What: A 5.2 mile lollipop loop trail up Elephant Back Mountain.
Why: Great views of Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountains, plus some exercise.
Where: Drive 0.7 miles south of Fishing Bridge or 0.5 miles north of Lake. Marked trailhead on the west side of road, and extra parking just north on east side of road.
Who: Hikers who don’t mind a hill.
How: About halfway up, the trail splits and makes a loop. Go either way. We went to the right and thought it was great.

Need a trail guide? This is the book I use.

My go-to, favorite hiking book for Yellowstone is Bill Schneider’s Hiking Yellowstone National Park.

Want to Spend the Night?

Yellowstone campground review

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