ElevationAscent: 1,570' 478 m
Descent: -1,570' -478 m
High: 8,435' 2,571 m
Low: 6,865' 2,093 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 22% (13°)
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“A hardy hike through forests to an impressive overlook of Madison Canyon and beyond.”— Tom Carter
The trail continues to climb and ends at the 3.4-mile mark with a fine overlook. From here it is possible to see the Tetons on the horizon to the south, the thermal steam rising from Midway and Lower Geyser Basins, and the full sweep of impressive Madison Canyon to the west.
At your feet is the confluence of the Gibbon River and the Firehole River. Together they form the headwaters of the Madison River, one of three rivers that join near Three Forks, Montana to form the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark named these rivers in 1805 to honor three individuals who were important to the expedition – President Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State James Madison (who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase), and Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin (who paid for the trip). Once you have enjoyed the view, retrace your steps to the trailhead.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.
Beginning in 1931, ranger-naturalist stationed at Madison Junction were assigned fire patrol, three times a week climbing Purple Mountain to look for smoke. They began a practice of allowing park visitors to join the hike – and Purple Mountain became one of the first “Ranger Walks.” Later a “secondary” lookout station was built here to supplement the primary lookouts. If you scout around the area you may find evidence of the lookout’s former location. Other secondary looks include Bunsen Peak, Observation Peak, and Pelican Cone.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park