Hiking the Bechler Meadows Trail
Bechler Meadows Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #9 Bechler Meadows and Boundary Creek Trails
Bechler Ranger Station Trailhead 9K1
Southwest Section - Moderate Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Southwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate - Out-and-back, loop or overnighter
Distance: 16.4 mi/26.3 km as a loop
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.
Best time to visit: August-Early October (Buggy and wet early in the year)

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 7 sites - 9A0, 9A1, 9A2, 9A3, 9B1, 9C1 & 9M1
Click here to view a list of the backcountry campsites for this area.

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

Finding the Trailhead - Bechler Ranger Station (9K1)
From Ashton, Idaho:
From Highway 20 in Ashton, Idaho, go through the town heading east on Highway 47 for 5.7 miles. Turn right onto E 1400 N/Cave Falls Road and drive for 16.4 miles. Approximately 11 miles of this road is dirt. Turn left at the sign for the Bechler Ranger Station and follow the secondary dirt road for 1.4 miles to the trailhead and ranger station. Parking is located on the right. Get Directions from the Ashton, Idaho.

Bechler Meadows Trailhead Location

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Bechler Meadows Overview Map
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Bechler Meadows Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent to Fair (Wet/marshy early)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Total Mileage: 16.4 mi /26.3 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back, loop or overnighter
Wow Factor: Open meadows and plenty of waterfalls
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Ashton, Idaho
24 miles east of Ashton, Idaho - Get Directions
Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.149342
Longitude: -111.046683

Dunanda Falls Coordinates
Latitude: 44.248227
Longitude: -111.024436

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 6,400 ft.
Dunanda Falls = 6,700 ft.
Elevation Gain = 300 ft.
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Bechler Meadows Trail Description

Bechler Meadows & the Boundary Creek Trail Descriptions (Trailhead 9K1) - Moderate Traffic

Meandering streams crisscross open meadows, waterfalls cascade over ancient lava flows and bubbling hot springs provide backpackers with a place to recharge the body and mind.

This hike begins at the Bechler Ranger Station which lies in the southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park in an area known for its abundance of waterfalls. It is commonly referred to as the “Cascade Corner.” There are a handful of buildings surrounding the ranger station which were constructed in 1911 by the U.S. Army and served as an outpost for soldiers patrolling this region of the park. There are four trails that branch off from this location including; Robinson Creek, Bechler Meadows, Bechler River Cutoff and the South Boundary Trail. For this description we'll move in a clockwise direction, following the Bechler Meadows Trail north to Dunanda Falls via the Boundary Creek Trail. From Dunanda Falls we'll return via the Bechler Meadows Cutoff and the Bechler Meadows Trail. This is a mellow lollipop loop that can be done in either direction.

From the ranger station walk about 75 yards northeast along the road past the historic soldier station and follow the fences toward a small wooden kiosk. Just past the kiosk is the Robinson Creek Trail which heads left. Continue in a northeast direction for another 0.1 mile and the trail will cross a small creek on a narrow footbridge where it reaches the first trail juncture. Stay left and follow the Bechler Meadows Trail north.

For the next 1.5 miles the trail is mostly wooded, passing through lodgepole pine forests that are occasionally interrupted by a few small meadows and lily covered ponds. At mile 1.6 the trail reaches the juncture for the Boundary Creek Trail and continues north (left). The Boundary Creek Trail continues north through very similar terrain until you reach Bartlett Slough at 3.80 miles. A pair of narrow logs placed across a shallow section of the slough will help with this ford. During the spring however, this waterway will be much deeper. Beyond the Bartlett Slough the forest gives way to the Bechler Meadows. Large and small waterways permeate this landscape in every direction making it a real quagmire (giggity) early in the year which means the flies and mosquitos can be a real problem if you visit in June or July.

At 5.0 miles you reach the stock campsite 9A1 (★★★★★) which is situated a short distance from Boundary Creek. A small stand of trees provides shade for the cooking area and the site has plenty of spots for tents that offer unobstructed views of this large meadow.

Just past the campsite is the ford for Boundary Creek. The water is so clear it looks deceptively shallow but even in September it can still be very deep. After exiting the creek the trail bends to the left briefly and then makes a sharp right heading north once again. If you look northeast across the Bechler Meadows you’ll notice a notch in the nearby ridge where the Bechler Canyon begins. Both the Madison and Pitchstone plateaus descend into this region from the north and northeast.

At 6.0 miles the trail enters the trees once again with Boundary Creek reappearing on the left. Willows line the trail next to the creek and conifer trees flank the trail on the right. A few muddy sections appear at about mile 6.1 miles but the are easily avoided. At 6.4 miles the juncture for the Bechler Meadows Cutoff Trail intersects from the right. Continue north (left) through the meadow toward Dunanda Falls and Buffalo Lake.

At 6.5 miles the trail passes stock campsite 9A0 (★★★) which is visible to the left. The tent sites and camp toilet are located just east of the cooking area. A small stream meanders behind the food storage area so collecting water is very easy at this site. At 6.7 miles the you'll ford an unnamed creek before reaching campsite 9A2 (★★★★). The site is 0.1 miles from the main trial and faces a large meadow to the west. The creek is easily accessible from camp.

Beyond site 9A2 the scenery opens once again and between mile 7.5 and mile 7.9 miles you'll cross three small streams, the first of which requires a very minor ford. After passing the third creek the trail gradually climbs to campsite 9A3 (★★★★★). This is the only significant elevation gain along the trail. Site 9A3 is 0.2 miles off the main trail and is situated just above Boundary Creek. Mountain-ash is a common tree in this area and its bright orange berries hang in large clusters from the thin branches. There are a few tents sites scattered near the cooking area but the best sites can be found on a hillside to the south. This elevated spot provides a view that stretches across the Bechler region and as far south as the Grand Tetons. From the campsite you have the option of walking upstream to reach Dunanda Falls or you can return back to the main trail a climb a short distance to the overlook. If you walk north along Boundary Creek stay to the left. There are thermal pools along the way and another beautiful spring fed pool just below this incredible 150’ waterfall.

From site 9A3 it’s a short 0.3 mile walk to the juncture for Dunanda and Silver Scarf Falls. If you head right at this junction the trail climbs a steep hillside via the Boundary Creek Trail to a viewpoint near the top of Silver Scarf Falls. From this vantage point the water tumbles across volcanic rock for about 800 feet creating a bubbling waterway that descends toward the Bechler Meadows. To reach Dunanda Falls walk back down the hill to the juncture and head right to the overlook near the top of the waterfall. A very steep trail—not recommended for anyone carrying a large backpack—descends to Boundary Creek and the base of the falls. Once you reach the bottom it's a short walk upstream to an obvious thermal pool. To reach the main trail or campsite 9A3 it’s easier to ford the creek and follow it south to the campsite. Please be courteous if there are other campers occupying this site.

Part 2
From this point we'll continue the trail description from the Bechler Meadows Cutoff Trail 1.6 miles south of this location. The Bechler Cutoff Trail is about 2.0 miles in length and meanders through lodgepole pine forests to the junction at the north end of the Bechler Meadows Trail. From here you have access to the Bechler River Canyon along the Bechler River Trail which continues north toward Old Faithful. From this juncture the views stretch south across the Targhee National Forest and into Grand Teton National Park.

Continuing south the trail is well defined but look for the orange markers as you traverse the meadow. The trail skirts a number of small waterways and at 12.5 miles a wide slough will require a ford. When viewed from above this area is a maze of old and new waterways that continue to change their course with time.

At 13.2 miles the stock campsite 9M1 (★★★★) will be visible in the trees on the left. The trail follows a bends to the right before crossing a narrow suspension bridge spanning Boundary Creek. After crossing the creek—no horseplay on the bridge please—the trail reaches site 9B1 (★★★). This campsite is tucked away in the woods just west of 9M1. View from the campsite are limited but you only have to walk across the bridge to take in the scenery.

Beyond site 9B1 the trail enters the woods where it meanders through pine forests for the remainder of the trip. At 13.8 miles the junction for Rocky Ford Cutoff enters from the left. The Rocky Ford Cutoff provides access to both the Bechler River and Mountain Ash Creek Trails. From this juncture stay right and continue heading south for 1.7 miles to the junction with the Boundary Creek Trail. From here it’s only 1.6 miles to the Bechler Ranger Station and the starting point for this trip.

NOTE: There are no entrance stations in this area of the park but you are still required to pay an entrance fee as well as a backcountry use fee for any overnight camping. Please inquire at the ranger station before beginning your trip.

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.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Nearby Hiking Trails
Robinson Creek (Trailhead 9K1)
South Boundary/Cave Falls (Trailhead 9K2)

Nearby Campgrounds
Cave Falls Campground - June to Sept. - Located beside the Falls River this campground has 23 sites and 3 vault toilets. Campsites are $10 per night and $5 for each additional vehicle. The campground has potable water. Each site has a fire ring, grill, picnic tables and a bear proof storage box. Reservations are not accepted. Get directions from the Bechler Ranger Turnoff to the Cave Falls Campground.

Post Hike Meals
There are facilities in the town of Ashton, Idaho; gas, food and lodging.

Directions to the Bechler Meadows Trailhead
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 Bechler Meadows Trailhead

Click the map to launch directions
from Ashton, Idaho to the
Bechler Meadows Trail.


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