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Uncle Tom's Trail

Difficult
 4.4 (18)

Have fun scaling the incline stairs more than 300 feet down to the bottom of the canyon!


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Map Key

0.4

Miles

0.6

KM

Point to Point

7,776' 2,370 m

High

7,423' 2,263 m

Low

6' 2 m

Up

358' 109 m

Down

18%

Avg Grade (10°)

53%

Max Grade (28°)

Dogs Unknown

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Although the trail is short, it is steep and very strenuous. At nearly 8000 feet above sea level it can be a tough climb back to the trailhead.

Description

Uncle Tom's Trail is the oldest and most famous trail into the canyon, and the closest trail to the face of Lower Falls. The 0.4 mile trail makes use of a series of stairways, containing more than 300 steps, to reach an observation platform directly in front of the 308-foot Lower Falls.

When originally constructed by Uncle Tom Richardson in the late 1800s, the trail included a series of rope ladders that scaled 400 feet down the canyon walls. Hardy visitors would spend the day with Uncle Tom, first ferrying across the Yellowstone River (before the Chittenden Bridge was constructed in the early 1900s) then ascending the South Rim to the top of Uncle Tom's Trail, finally climbing down the rope ladders to view the falls. A picnic lunch was served before the return trip.

In 1889, a license was sought for the construction of a huge elevator that would have seriously defaced the opposite wall of the canyon. Opposition by Park Superintendent Boutelle forced the withdrawal of the objectionable request.

Enjoy the view of the falls from the bottom and charge-up your batteries for the steep climb out!

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

  4.4 from 18 votes

#460

Overall
  4.4 from 18 votes
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Trail Rankings

#19

in Wyoming

#460

Overall
57 Views Last Month
4,177 Since Sep 10, 2015
Difficult

0%
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Photos

Rainbow over the yellow canyon, and the steep stairs on Uncle Tom's Trail.
May 19, 2016 near Canyon…, WY
Lower Yellowstone Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail.
Sep 10, 2015 near Canyon…, WY
Going down was the easy part!
Jun 11, 2017 near Canyon…, WY
Uncle Tom's Trail.
Mar 7, 2016 near Canyon…, WY

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Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Jul 25, 2021
Ryan Seyler
Apr 17, 2021
Tyler Cheek
Aug 11, 2020
Claudia Guzman
Trail closed due to maintenance.
Jul 14, 2020
Kirstin Moertl
Jun 23, 2020
Graham Mayfield
Closed
Jun 8, 2020
Bradley Carman
Trail closed — 0h 10m
Sep 10, 2019
Joe Zerbe
Closed due to hazardous conditions — 3h 19m
Aug 25, 2019
Guanghui Zhu