On our way down to the West Thumb Geyser Basin, we passed the very crowded Elephant Back trailhead. The next morning we passed it again and there were only 2 cars at the trailhead. We decided to turn around and hike the trail since it was a beautiful, clear morning and we were going to spend the next couple of days in the car en route to the Grand Teton’s. I’m glad we stopped! The trail is lollipop style and starts with a fairly flat walk through a lot of fallen trees until it reaches the loop. From there, the trail drastically steepens until the top of Elephant Back Mountain is reached. We took the right path first, going counter-clockwise. Turns out this way is the steeper of the two. After two days of hiking Mt. Washburn, Beaver Ponds and Uncle Tom’s trail, our legs were less excited for the climb than our spirits.
Approaching the top of the mountain, we began getting incredible views of Yellowstone Lake. We realized exactly why there were so many people here the evening before – sunset would be stunning! The lake is beautiful from the shore, but few put in the effort to get to see its beauty from above. We spent a spell at each outlook, trying to burn the snapshot into our eyes.
On the way around and down the mountain, we saw some bear scat on the trail. It was pretty dry, so no need for us to worry. Although there were many “be bear aware” cautions on this trail (and others) we fortunately did not have any close encounters with bears. We took in this hike with only chipmunks and squirrels in tow 🙂
Distance: 3 miles
Total climb: 955 feet
Lowest elevation: 7675 feet
Highest elevation: 8630 feet