This 2.7 mile cutoff trail connects the Bechler River Trail
with the Boundary Creek Trail
. The trail begins just south of Bechler Canyon
and it ends at a junction with the Boundary Creek Trail
less than 2 miles from Dunanda Falls. From the trailhead, the cutoff trail immediately makes a difficult sandy-bottomed, but knee-to-thigh-deep ford of the Bechler River and heads into big, beautiful Bechler Meadows. At the .7 mile-mark it reaches a junction with the Bechler Meadows Trail
, turns right, and continues along the north end of Bechler Meadows. To the south, enjoy spectacular views of the meadows and the Tetons beyond.
Gustavus Bechler, the chief topographer for the 1872 Hayden Survey, drew rudimentary maps of the area. Little attention was paid to this part of the park for the next 50 years. Then, in 1920, Congress considered damming the Falls and Bechler rivers and turning Bechler Meadows into a reservoir. Western water interests, fresh from victories over damming the Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite (1913) and completing Jackson Lake Dam (1916) had high hopes of success. A bill even passed the U.S. Senate. To combat this attack on Yellowstone, National Parks Association member, William Gregg, made extensive explorations of the waterfalls in the southwest corner of the park in effort to publicize the beauty and value of the area. His articles in magazines like the Saturday Evening Post, together with opposition from Yellowstone Superintendent Horace Albright, carried the day and no dam was constructed.
At the 1.5 -mile mark the cutoff trail leaves Bechler Meadows and enters the forest for the last 1.2 miles before ending at a junction with the Boundary Creek Trail
. To the left, that trail travels 6.7 miles to the Bechler Ranger Station. To the right, it climbs 1.7 miles to an overlook of Dunanda Falls.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone