Yellowstone Kid Hikes

Our family has a tradition to visit Yellowstone every other year. We visit both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. We love the waterfalls, the animals, the scenic drives, geothermal features, but most importantly we love the Yellowstone Kid Hikes.

Yellowstone is full of hikes, and we have found tons of trails that are great for families. We review each trail and provide information that will help you know which of these trails will be the best for you. This post has our favorite Yellowstone Kid Hikes, but if you are looking for more information on Yellowstone, check out all our posts on this National Park here.

Our family tradition is to go to Yellowstone every other year, so we’ve had a lot of experience with the hikes there, particulary the kid friendly hikes. We are currently working on expanding this section by writing a complete post about each hike, so click on the name of the hike for more information and pictures. So here are our favorite Yellowstone Kid Hikes.

Every trail in Yellowstone is beautiful!

Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

A new hike in 2018 allows you to climb the ridge and look down on Grand Prismatic Spring. This quickly became our favorite family hike because it isn’t that difficult, but it leads to a dazzling display of color. There is a short climb, but the hike is definitely worth it!

There are great views of Grand Prismatic Spring from above on this trail.

Wraith Falls

We have done this hike every time we’ve been to Yellowstone. Located just a few miles east of Mammoth, this short, easy hike can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone. A short walk across an open meadow with a boardwalk for much of the way ends at a beautiful waterfall. The round trip is just 1 mile.

Wraith Falls
Wraith Falls

Artist Paint Pots

This hike is very well known. It is located between Norris and Madison Junction and has it’s own turnout. The actual hike is short, in the shape of a lollipop, and has one steep part that includes steps (if you take the lollipop counter-clockwise). The payoff is unique geological features that looks just like boiling paint– mostly white and gray. The round trip is 1.2 miles.

Artist Paint Pots
Artist Paint Pots

Harlequin Lake

Our four year-olds did great on this hike. We love to do it on the way into the park as it is located between the west entrance and Madison Junction. It starts off a little steep and meanders up to a beautiful mountain lake that has many birds, chipmunks and squirrels. As far as a flashy ending, there isn’t one– it’s just a lake. Still, at 1 mile out-and-back, this is a great hike for kids.

Harlequin Lake is a pretty little lake.

Little Gibbon Falls

The problem with this hike is that it is entirely unmarked. You’ll need special instructions to find it. It is located exactly 3.3 miles east of Norris. There is a pullout on the south side of the road. The hike starts near an orange marker across the road and about 30 yards east (toward Canyon) from the pullout. The trail goes through some soggy meadows (you may encounter mosquitoes) and ends at a beautiful waterfall that not very many Yellowstone visitors see. The trail is out-and-back, just 1.2 miles.

Little Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone
Little Gibbon Falls

Trout Lake

This is one of our favorite short hikes because we saw an otter at this lake! The trail is very short, just .6 miles up to the lake, but we wanted to walk around the entire lake (probably another .6 or so) and then .6 back. The trail is quite steep up to the lake, so you may find this difficult, but we went with 6 kids age 6 and under (the cousins tagging along), and they all walked the entire way (except the infant on my back). If you can handle the climb, you’ll love this hike located in the Lamar Valley.

Trout Lake
Trout Lake

Ice Lake

The Ice Lake trailhead is located near the Norris Junction. To call this a hike is a bit ambitious as it is only .6 miles out and back to the destination. Ice Lake is surprisingly large and beautiful. The trail is very flat and pleasant and appropriate for the very old or the very young.

Ice lake is quite large…it stretches around further than we could see.

Mystic Falls

This hike ends at a beautiful 70 foot waterfall. There is some climbing, and the trail is a little longer– about 4 miles around the lollipop, but you can also hike out to the falls and back– 1.1 miles each way if you’d like to shorten this hike. That’s what we recommend with kids.

Mystic Falls is a big waterfall.

Fairy Falls

This is the crown-jewel of Yellowstone hikes. Fairy Falls is absolutely amazing and plunges 200 feet into a beautiful pool. The trail is long, though, at 5.2 miles. This trailhead is near Old Faithful, and the trail is very flat and easy. You start out on what used to be a dirt road, and after about a mile you turn into the pines and walk to the falls. We really pushed our almost 5-year old to get this one done, and our kids are pretty experienced hikers, so save this one until the kids are a little older. Make sure to take the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook side trail if you do hike Fairy Falls.

Fairy Falls
Fairy Falls

Pelican Creek Nature Trail

The nature trail is located just east of fishing bridge and runs about 1 mile in length. It hugs the shore of Yellowstone Lake before turning into the trees and heading back toward the car. The hike is shady and peaceful and easy for all levels. There is no elevation gain and little danger of running into large animals.

Pelican Creek Nature Trail leads out to a sandy beach.

Duck Lake 

We haven’t been able to find this hike in any of the books we have on Yellowstone, even though it is clearly marked along the road near West Thumb. The hike is about a mile long round-trip and goes to a large secluded lake. There is a gentle climb and descent to the lake, but our two year-old easily completed this hike.

Duck Lake is beautiful and we always find solitude here.

Storm Point

This hike is located between Fishing Bridge and the east entrance. It is 1.5 mile loop that follows the shore of Yellowstone Lake. We really like this hike because you are guaranteed to see some wildlife. There is a marmot colony about halfway around the loop, and marmots sit on the rocks and whistle at you. On the other side of the loop is Storm Point, which juts out into the lake. This is another hike that we’ve done nearly every time we’ve gone to Yellowstone.

Sheepeater Cliff 

The hike at Sheepeater Cliff quickly became a family favorite. It’s a little secret trail from the Sheepeater Picnic Area. The trail is flat, easy, and has a waterfall at the end. We loved this beautiful trail!

Natural Bridge

This hike is flat and easy and leads to a beautiful natural bridge. It is fun to see this unique feature in Yellowstone, and we saw lots of birds and squirrels along the way. You can also ride bikes out to this arch.

Undine Falls

You can stop and see Undine Falls as a roadside waterfall, but we like to take the easy hike around to the other side of this waterfall. You get a little bit closer, and the trail is simple for anyone to make. The trick is not to miss the turnoff.

Lost Lake

The Lost Lake hike is in the northeast corner of the park at the Roosevelt Junction. It climbs the hill behind the Roosevelt General Store, passes Lost Lake, and ends at the Petrified Tree. The distance varies on whether you shuttle or do an out and back, but to the lake and back from Roosevelt is under 2 miles.

Lost Lake was a great destination for the kids to throw rocks!

Lost Falls

This is a quick little side trail to Lost Falls behind the Roosevelt Lodge. It is easily paired with Lost Lake, or done alone. The down side is that you can’t get very close to the falls and it is hidden behind the trees. But it is only 0.4 of a mile roundtrip.

Every time we visit Yellowstone, we find more family-friendly hikes to try.  Let us know if you have a favorite in the comment section! We love all of these Yellowstone Kid Hikes.

We have also visited lots of other National Parks. Here are some great family friendly hikes in the National Parks in and around Utah.

Grand Teton Kid Hikes

Badlands Kid Hikes 

Rocky Mountain Kid Hikes

Bryce Canyon Kid Hikes

Zion Kid Hikes

Arches Kid Hikes

Canyonlands Kid Hikes

Great Basin Kid Hikes

Mesa Verde Kid Hikes

*Note: Though the reviews above are ours, we sometimes use the book “Hiking Yellowstone National Park: A Falcon Guide” by Bill Schneider to find our hikes. Click on the book to see it on Amazon:

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Ksenia

    Do you have recommendations for accommodations with little kids?

    1. Natalie Ockey

      We love to stay right in the park. It makes for less driving with young children, but this is also a little more expensive. We try to book early and stay in the cabins somewhere in the park. Canyon, Lake, Mammoth, Old Faithful are all awesome spots to stay. The cabins also fill up quickly. We have stayed in West Yellowstone, but then it’s a big drive in to the main areas of the park.

  2. Luke Jones

    Thanks so much for some great hikes!! It really helps our family plan. We are thinking of doing one night camping in the backcountry, maybe a short 2-3 mile hike to a campsite. Do you have any suggestions? I keep finding ribbon lake but I’m afraid it would be too buggy and not that enjoyable. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

    1. Natalie Ockey

      We have never backpacked at Yellowstone, so I don’t have great advice. Ribbon Lake was not our favorite hike in Yellowstone because it was super buggy, but it would be a great place for a short backpacking trip. I don’t have any better suggestions, though. I’m so sorry.

  3. Tracy

    I’ll be visiting Yellowstone next summer with my daughter who will be 6 then. Let’s just say she’s not exactly an avid hiker so this information is particularly helpful to gauge some hikes that will be appropriate for her. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Natalie Ockey

      Have so much fun in Yellowstone! It is our favorite place. There are so many easy hikes–we hope you find one that she will enjoy.

  4. Sydney

    What a helpful blog! Thank you! Can you recommend a good hiking toddler carrier for a 31pound almost 3 yr old? Thanks so much!!

    1. Natalie

      We have an Evenflo Trailblazer backpack, but Evenflo no longer makes their child carriers. You can find them on eBay sometimes. We love this one because it is light, and easy to use. So we have not tested out any other backpacks, but most of our friends and neighbors have Kelty carriers now, and they seem to like them. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful.

  5. Natalie Ockey

    We have tried to go on this hike a few times. Both times there were bear warnings and we couldn’t go…but one day. Thanks for letting us know it’s worth trying.

  6. Anonymous

    Natural bridge is a great hike.

  7. Deanna

    Thank you so much for this!!! We go each year, but some of these places we’ve not heard of! Our kids are going to be so excited to have a chance and stretch out their legs….

  8. kitgonzales

    Thanks for this post! I predict I’ll be revisiting it in the future!

  9. Rachael

    Thanks for sharing all this info! Our family is planning a reunion near Yellowstone next month and this will help us a lot, especially with knowing what the different age groups of kids can handle.