The Great American Road Trip: Yellowstone – Seven Mile Hole Trail
The Grand Canyon is a must for your visit to Yellowstone. It is a magnificent sight to behold, with gushing waterfalls, red-hued soil and rocky sloping cliffs. The viewpoint names say it all: Inspiration Point, Artist Point, Point of Sublime. Although a lot of the lookouts are accessible from the road, it is much more rewarding to get out on the trail and away from the crowds. As I mentioned in my Yellowstone guide, the crowds here are frustrating. Yellowstone is the most visited U.S. destination after all. More than NYC! Thankfully (but also sadly), most visitors to the Park do not venture away from the loop road, geysir boardwalks and air conditioned cars, leaving the trails nearly empty. We only saw one couple on our hike. How wonderful to have this slice of heaven to ourselves for the day!
We explored the northern rim of the Grand Canyon via the Seven Mile Hole trail. Starting at the Glacial Boulder trailhead, this hike combines all the best aspects of Yellowstone. You begin at the northern rim with stunning views of the canyon below before descending through pine forests and passing by meadows. This is prime Grizzly viewing area so keep your eyes peeled. (And your bear spray ready). Next the trail makes its way back to the canyon wall and descends 1,690 feet to the river past geothermal activity and hot springs. This hike is roughly 10 miles roundtrip and moderate to strenuous. You can make it a day trip or extend it into an overnighter using one of the three backcountry campsites. Note that fires are not permitted in the backcountry, so plan meals accordingly.
We stopped to eat lunch, perched on the cliff’s edge. Watching the wind swish the trees, listening to the rapids rumbling below, and breathing in the sweet-smelling pines, I had a “This is exactly why I quit my job!” moment. Today I felt wonderfully joyous, rejuvinated, and thankful to experience the sun on my cheeks, and the peace of the evergreens.
**We later learned that due to the geothermal activity under the canyon, the cliffs are extremely unstable and have been know to collapse and calve without warning. Ahhhhhh what?? Good thing we definitely veered off the trail to peer over them and ate lunch perched on their edge. Seriously, there should be signs at the trail head! (I read them and this no biggie lifesaving fact was not mentioned). So stay on the trail by the cliff edge people!!**
The Glacial Boulder trailhead is here. Coming from Canyon Campground/Canyon Village, make a left onto Grand Loop Road. Make your first left onto North Rim Drive. Make your first right onto an unmarked road and a minute or so down the road you will see a very large upright boulder on the left. This boulder marks the trailhead as well as a bulletin board with notices and information. You will most likely see cars parked on the side of the road too.