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Bunsen Peak Road Trail

Intermediate
 4.5 (2)

Bunsen Peak Road is one of the best mountain bike trips in Yellowstone! Or a great loop hike option.


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Map Key

6.3

Miles

10.1

KM

Point to Point

7,351' 2,241 m

High

6,277' 1,913 m

Low

289' 88 m

Up

1,107' 338 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

30%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

The Bunsen Peak Road Trail is primarily used by bikers in the summer and skiers in the winter. However, it is also open to pedestrian traffic, and the first 3 miles of the road is often used by hikers making a loop up and over Bunsen Peak and back along this road. If you see buffalo on the road, try to stay at least 25 yards away.

Description

The one-way, mostly downhill Bunsen Peak Road is one of the best mountain bike trips in Yellowstone. In the winter, it's part of a great cross-country ski trail from Indian Creek Campground to Mammoth Hot Springs. The first 3 miles of the road is often used by hikers to make a loop in combination with Bunsen Peak Trail up and over Bunsen Peak and back along this road.

The 6.3-mile Bunsen Peak Road Trail begins on the east side of the Mammoth to Norris Road, just south of Rustic Falls. The dirt road rounds the "backside" of Bunsen Peak and ends near Mammoth Hot Springs. The first 3.2 miles are mostly level and wander through open meadows frequented by buffalo and elk. To the west are nice views across Swan Lake Flat to the Gallatin Mountains.

At the 3.2-mile mark, the Bunsen Peak Trail joins from the left, the road enters the forest and begins a steep 950-foot descent over the next 2.2 miles. Right after the junction, the road passes Osprey Falls Trail (on the right). That trail leads steeply down into Gardner Canyon to the base of 150-foot Osprey Falls.

The road continues to twist and turn its way down through forests heavily burned by the 1988 fires. That year, the intense North Fork Fire, the largest of eight major fires during that extraordinary summer, roared through this area. As devastated as this forest appeared, by some measures it was more alive than before. The fires opened the overhead canopy and cleared the cluttered forest floor. Within weeks, grasses and other plant life began sprouting and small animals began feeding on the feast of seeds dropped during the fire. Burned trees attracted insects that in turn attracted a variety of birds. Stop and survey the changes that have occurred in the 30 years since the fires. Listen for the sounds of a forest alive.

At the 5.4-mile mark, the road reaches its lowest point as it crosses Glen Creek. From there, the road climbs 175 feet in the last .9 miles. Near the end, the road passes through an employee housing area before reaching the main highway about a mile south of Mammoth Hot Springs.

Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Carter

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 2 votes

#7241

Overall
  4.5 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#162

in Wyoming

#7,241

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12 Views Last Month
632 Since Feb 1, 2016
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Photos

Backside of bunsen peak trail.
Jan 22, 2016 near Mammoth…, WY
The views from the Bunsen Peak Road Trail don't disappoint.
May 15, 2019 near Mammoth…, WY
Early spring view of the Gallatin Range from above the Golden Gate on the Howard Eaton Trail.
Apr 30, 2016 near Mammoth…, WY
Beaver pond area beneath Bunsen Peak. with permission from Ralph Maughan
Mar 25, 2016 near Mammoth…, WY

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Check-Ins

Aug 24, 2019
Michael Prevatt
Aug 5, 2019
Jinger Burton
Jul 1, 2019
Jenna De Hoop Scheffer
Bunsen and maybe osprey — 2h 45m
Aug 19, 2018
Shailen Dalbehera
Jul 30, 2018
Heather Lee
Sep 11, 2017
Jake Lowry
Jul 11, 2017
Robby Grant
Great hike for on the way to Osprey falls 4mi