Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Hike in Yellowstone - Lone Star Geyser

Lone Star Geyser Hike

Lone Star Geyser
If I had to pick a favorite hike in Yellowstone, the walk (I don’t even want to call it a hike) to Lone Star Geyser has got to be it.  This is probably one of the easiest backcountry hikes in the park. The trailhead is located a few miles south of Old Faithful, just past the Kepler Cascades turnout (I’ve been told that Kepler Cascades are beautiful to see, and I think I’ve stood at the viewing fence once. I can’t bring myself to get close enough to the fence to see beyond it for a full view. Remember, I’m terrified of heights).

Anyways, Lone Star has it’s own parking area just past Kepler Cascades, along with a brand new vault toilet. This is a big plus, since the hike is almost five miles round trip. This is a fairly popular hike, and the parking lot is not very large, so parking is definitely limited. The best time to get there is fairly early in the day.

The hike is almost completely level all the way. It does incline gradually, but this is barely noticeable. The trail itself is an old asphalt service road.
Shortly after starting the hike, you’ll come along the Upper Firehole River, which is a peaceful meandering creek in this area. After crossing the river on a bridge, you’ll walk through forest and several meadows, following the Firehole. If you’re from the city like me, it’s a good idea to stop once in a while along the river or in a meadow and just sit and listen… the quiet. There’s nothing better than getting out in nature, and just listening to the solitude. The gentle sounds of the breeze through the trees, the crickets, the gurgling of the water, or the birds makes this a really relaxing hike.

Since this is an old service road, mountain bikes are allowed on this trail. Personally, I’d rather walk and enjoy the scenery, but if you’re in a hurry, a bike may be the way to go. There are bike racks at the end of the road, just before you get to the clearing where Lone Star is located. You’ll see the twelve-foot tall cone of the geyser as you come out of the paved path into the clearing. There are no boardwalks here. This is a backcountry geyser, and you’re on your own, so use common sense.

They geyser itself erupts about every three hours, and can shoot water 30-50 feet in the air, with several minor eruptions in between. There is a log book where visitors can note the time of the last eruption, and make notes on what they’ve observed. It was not very well updated when we were there last month. There are a few downed trees and logs you can sit at to enjoy the scenery and maybe a snack, or even lunch if you planned ahead, and wait for the next eruption.
Lone Star Geyser is not named for the Lone Star State of Texas, but because it is a lone geyser in an isolated location. 

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