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Yellowstone Meadows Cutoff Trail



2.4 mile 3.9 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 9' 3 m
Descent: -63' -19 m
High: 7,904' 2,409 m
Low: 7,849' 2,392 m


Avg Grade: 1% (0°)
Max Grade: 2% (1°)


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Trail shared by Tom Carter

A short trail that connects the Thorofare Trail to Bridger Lake, in Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Tom Carter

Features River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


The short 2.4-mile Yellowstone Meadows Cutoff Trail travels through open meadows and burned forests to connect the Thorofare Trail to the western edge of Bridger Lake and National Forest Trail #059. This is one of two trails from Yellowstone to Bridger Lake, and the route I like best.

Heading southwest from the Thorofare Trail the trail fords braided Thorofare Creek beginning at .7 miles. Here above its confluence with the Yellowstone River, Thorofare Creek rivals the Yellowstone in size. Although large, it is usually not a problem to ford by mid-July. There are several nice campsites in the area. At the 1.7-mile mark, the trail leaves Yellowstone and enters Bridger-Teton National Forest (and the trail designation switches to NFS Trail #060).

In the 1820s and 30s, fur trappers seeking beaver pelts followed Native American trails through this area, up the Thorofare, and along the eastern shore of Yellowstone Lake. Joseph Meek, Osborne Russell, and Jim Bridger are some of the best known trappers of the day. Jim Bridger is perhaps best known for his tall tales. Trappers had little for entertainment but talk. Verbal embellishment became a fine art as they related their experiences. Tradition links Bridger’s name with many of Yellowstone's tallest tales, for example claiming that Yellowstone’s petrified forest was carpeted with petrified grass, populated with petrified animals, and even contained birds petrified in flight.

The trail ends at the southwest corner of beautiful Bridger Lake. The large placid pool is in a spectacular setting, directly below Hawk’s Rest to the south, not far from the confluence of Thorofare Creek and the Yellowstone River to the north, and hemmed in by The Trident and Two Ocean Plateau to the east and west. Enjoy this special spot.

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

Flora & Fauna

Chances to see moose, elk, and grizzly bear.

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Aug 19, 2018
Kate Muller

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