Hiking the Beaver Ponds Trail, Yellowstone
Beaver Ponds Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #12, Beaver Ponds Trail
Beaver Ponds Trailhead
Northwest Section - Light to Moderate Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Moderate - Loop
Distance: 5.2 mi/8.3 km
Elevation Gain: 650 ft.
Best time to visit: Year-round

Backcountry Camping: None

Full Description: Read the full description or view photos of this hike.
Topo Maps: Beartooth Publishing - Yellowstone National Park

Finding the Trailhead
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
The trailhead is located just south of the Mammoth
Service Station on the right.

Beaver Ponds Trailhead Location

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Beaver Ponds Trail Overview Map
Beaver Ponds Topo Map, Yellowstone
Beaver Ponds Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well marked
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Mileage: 5.2 mi /8.3 km as a loop
Type of Hike: Loop
Wow Factor: Beautiful terrain close to Mammoth
Elevation Gain: 650 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Mammoth Hot Springs
The trailhead is located just south of the Mammoth
Service Station on the right.

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.973584
Longitude: -110.704531

Beaver Ponds Coordinates
Latitude: 44.998508
Longitude: -110.718552

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 6,295 ft.
Beaver Ponds Elevation = 6,370 ft.
Elevation Gain = 650 ft.
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Beaver Ponds Trail Description

Beaver Ponds Trail Description - Light to Moderate Traffic

The Beaver Ponds Trail is a nice rolling five mile loop located near Mammoth Hot Springs. It's a short hike that can be done in just a few hours and makes for a nice easy walk in the early morning or late afternoon.

While this is technically a loop there are actually two separate trailheads for the Beaver Ponds hike. The first is located north of the hotel near the Old Gardiner Road. The second is located just south of the Mammoth General Store opposite the large parking lot near the public restrooms. For this description we'll be traveling in a counterclockwise direction starting from the Old Gardiner Road on the north side of Mammoth.

To find the trailhead walk behind the Mammoth Hotel and look for a large metal sign that marks the beginning of the Old Gardiner Road. A short distance up the trail you'll find an informational sign containing a map of the area. This is the official trailhead. Just past the sign there is an excellent view of Mammoth Hot Springs and the many buildings that make up the Park's headquarters. As you continue hiking north the trail levels off and there are unobstructed panoramas of the surrounding area, including; Mount Everts and the Gardner Canyon to the east, and the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness to the north. The town of Gardiner, Montana is easily visible from the large plateau known as Elk Plaza. You may have noticed in this trail description that there are slight variations in the spelling of the word "Gardiner" but it still refers to the surname of the same person, Johnson Gardner, a trapper who worked this region between 1831-1832. A phonetic error is the cause of this discrepancy. His name is also considered one of the oldest place names in the Park.

At around 1.5 miles the trail descends into the woods where it remains until reaching the first of four small ponds (visible from the trail). A narrow footbridge crosses the north end of a tiny stream that exits this pond at 1.7 miles. Douglas fir trees and Rocky Mountain juniper are common along much of the hike and there are a variety of wildflowers found here throughout the spring and summer months. After passing the first pond the trail skirts another larger lake to the north.

After reaching the north end of the second lake/pond the trail begins climbing through dense pine forests mixed with stands of aspen trees. Before long a third pond appears on the left. During the summer this particular lake is often covered in a patchwork of algae. As you continue south the trail passes the fourth and final pond which is often bustling with a variety of waterfowl (but no beavers).

From here the trail climbs once again as it continues through the wooded hillsides on the western edge of the trail. A dirt road intersects the trail at 3.4 miles and dead-ends at a radio tower directly to the west. The terrain opens once again providing additional views to the north and east.

Continuing south the trail passes above Mammoth Hot Springs before reaching the juncture with Snow Pass and Sepulcher Mountain at 4.25 miles. Stay left and continue following the trail toward Mammoth via a series of short switchbacks. This next section can be very confusing (especially during the winter) because there are a number of smaller paths that split from the main trail near each of the switchbacks. Look for the widest and most obvious path as you descend toward the lower terraces.

After another 0.5 miles the trial crosses a sturdy footbridge before reaching the junction with the Howard Eaton trail (right). The Howard Eaton Trail takes hikers south past the Upper Terraces and on toward the Hoodoos and eventually the Glen Creek/Fawn Pass Trails. Stay left and follow the well worn path along the edge of Clematis Creek and Lower Hymen Terrace toward the Grand Loop Road and the parking lot just north of Liberty Cap. Liberty Cap is an inactive cone-shaped hot spring that is said to be at least 2,500 years old. As you walk back to the parking lot be mindful of both elk and bison which frequent the area around Mammoth Hot Springs.

Click here to download your FREE Yellowstone Backcountry Trip Planner - Contains backcountry campsite information, backcountry permit information, park service phone numbers, bear management information and hiking/backpacking checklists.

WARNING: YOU MUST BE WELL PREPARED and carry the necessary equipment to make your hike a safe one. You are responsible for your own well-being while trekking in these remote wilderness locations. Help or rescue can be hours or even days away.

Nearby Hiking Trails
Sepulcher Mountain (Trailhead 1K3) - A nice out-and-back with stunning views of Electric Peak.
The Hoodoos (Trailhead 1K3) - A nice hike through interesting rock formations located high above Mammoth Hot Springs.
Electric Peak (Trailhead 1K3) - Climbs to the highest peak in the Gallatin Range at 10,969 ft.
Bunsen Peak (Trailhead 1K4) - A very popular summit with incredible views of the Gallatin Range and the Swan Lake Flat area.
Osprey Falls (Trailhead 1K4) - Descends into Sheepeater Canyon to the base of a 150' waterfall.
Indian Creek (Trailhead 1K5) - Heads west over scenic Bighorn Pass.
Mount Holmes (Trailhead 1K6) - A long day hike to a lookout tower located at the southern end of the Gallatin Range.
Grizzly Lake (Trailhead 1K8) - Offers access to both Mount Holmes and Trilobite Lake.

Nearby Campgrounds
Mammoth Campground - Open Year-round - Mammoth Campground is located approximately 1.1 miles north of the Beaver Ponds Trailhead and has 85 that are mostly pull-through. Campground has flush-toilets. Campsites are $20.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm. A gas station, general store, restaurants, a hotel and visitor center are located nearby at Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions from the Beaver Ponds Trailhead to the Mammoth Campground.

Indian Creek Campground - Indian Creek Campground is located approximately 4 miles south of the Beaver Ponds Trailhead and has 75 primitive sites (no RV hook ups). Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted - Get Directions from the Beaver Ponds Trailhead to the Indian Creek Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits for this area can be obtained at the Albright Visitor Center (at Mammoth Hot Springs). Open daily, year-round. Hours vary depending on the time of year - (307) 344-2263. Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Post Hike Meals
Visit the following restaurants in Mammoth or Gardiner after a day of backcountry hiking.

The Corral Drive-In - Located in Gardiner (Awesome burgers) - Get Directions
K Bar & Cafe - Pizza and beer. 202 Main Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Outlaws Pizza - You guessed it...Pizza. Located on Scott Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Terrace Grill - Fast food. Located in Mammoth (This will do in a pinch. Frankly, anything tastes good after a long day of hiking).

Maps for Hiking the Beaver Ponds Trail
Beartooth Publishing Outdoor Recreational Maps
The following map from Beartooth Publishing covers all of the hiking trails located in Yellowstone National Park. For more information about these maps click here.

Directions to the Beaver Ponds Trailhead

Beaver Ponds Trailhead


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