The Mystic Falls Trail begins on the west side of Biscuit Basin. From the Biscuit Basin parking area, cross the Firehole River on the footbridge and continue along the boardwalk to the far side of the basin. At the 0.2-mile mark, near Avoca Spring, the Mystic Falls Trail leaves the boardwalk on the left and heads into the forest. For the first 0.9 miles, the trail follows the north side of the Little Firehole River and climbs gradually to the base of Mystic Falls.
Along the way you'll pass two trail junctions. The first is Fairy Creek Trail
dropping steeply from a scenic lookout, which joins from the right. The second is the seldom used Summit Lake Trail
, which splits to the left.
Mystic Falls cascades majestically 70 feet over erosion-resistant canyon rhyolite. It has two sections, each with multiple steps. Nearby, look for playful yellow-bellied marmots along the trail. Unless you are planning to make this a loop, hike to take in the scenic lookout high above you, you should retrace your steps to the trailhead.
From the falls, the Mystic Falls Trail continues to the right and switchbacks steeply up more than 500 feet in under a 1/2 mile to reach the top of the Madison Plateau. Here the trail ends, where it joins the Fairy Creek Trail
at the 1.3 mile mark. To make this a loop, turn right at the trail junction and loop back to Biscuit Basin via the scenic lookout (this adds just 0.2 mile to the hike).
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone
Fire ripped through this area in 1988, charring the lodgepole pines. These trees have an unusual way of coping. Besides their annual seed cones, they produce special "serotinous cones," which only open at temperatures that exceed 113Â° F. Today, you can spot an abundance of immature lodgepoles that were born in the aftermath of the fire. As the trail climbs through fire-burned areas, look for other "pioneer" vegetation. The tall, green, two to three-foot stems with multiple deep pink flowers are known as "fireweed," in recognition of their ability to populate burned-over areas. Other plants that enjoy the increased sunlight include colorful clumps of purple lupine (distant relative of the Texas bluebonnet), tiny clusters of stark white pearly everlasting (whose hardy flowers live up to their name) and the spiny splendor of pink-topped Canada thistle. There also are opportunities to see yellow-bellied marmots on this trail.