Way back when we were first married we decided to go to Yellowstone. We weren’t hikers back then, and it was Mom’s first trip. Neither of us had been in the park enough to know much about it, so we randomly picked a hike called Mystic Falls. It turned out to be a pretty good hike, so many years later, we tried it again with our 5, 8, and 10 year-olds.
Mystic Falls starts at Biscuit Basin in the Old Faithful area. There is an easy way to do it, and a hard way. We recommend the easy way for families with small children, but both trails run about the same place, so you can make the decision when you get there.
Park at Biscuit Basin and head out to the end of the boardwalk. It doesn’t matter which way you go, all the trails loop around and terminate at the same place. From there, a trail continues into the pines. After about a tenth of a mile, you’ll come to a sign. To the right is the difficult way. It is 1.7 miles to the falls, and you will climb to a beautiful overlook. To the left is the shorter way, only .7 miles to the falls. Before you decide to be brave and take the longer route, look up at the skyline in front of you. High up on the cliff you’ll see a railing. That’s the overlook! So even though it is short, it is quite a climb!
Turn left and follow the trail as it heads down to the river. It is a bit rocky, but only climbs gently toward the base of Mystic Falls. There are good signs, so you can’t get lost. There isn’t a lot of shade, so make sure to wear sunscreen and hats.
The waterfall eventually comes up in front of you, and it is a doozy! We visited in the Spring, and it was roaring! Be careful around the rocks that are piled here. You will have to climb down the rocks to get closer to the base of the falls. We opted to stay up on the trail for our pictures.
The trail continues up around the loop to the overlook, but we recommend turning back and taking the easy .7 miles back to Biscuit Basin. This makes the hike to Mystic Falls around 2.0 miles which includes walking on the boardwalk out to the trailhead.
Mystic Falls hike may be a little more difficult than some of the other family hikes we’ve written about in Yellowstone, but families that hike fairly regularly or take it slowly should have no problem with this trail.
If you’re visiting Yellowstone, we can help. Be sure to visit our Waterfall Roundup. We also have a detailed guide to Animal Viewing. You can find out everything we know about Geysers. And of course, our recommended Hikes for Families are listed here.