An overnight trip through Firehole Meadows is an exciting way to see some of Yellowstone National Park's amazing alpine meadows, waterfalls, geysers, mudpots and more. The trip is a one-way hike starting in the highly active Biscuit Basin in the Upper Geyser Basin and ending at the Fountain Freight Trailhead in the Lower Geyser Basin area. The hike is moderate and offers so many distractions along the way that you'll barely notice you are covering any miles. Schedule in at least two extra hours per day to check out all the unique sites along the way.
Start early at the Biscuit Basin Trailhead. This is an extremely busy parking lot, so it is best to try and beat the crowds. Named after sinter deposits that took the shape of biscuits, the basin is home to many active geysers. Two boardwalk loops allow you to walk through the basin and check out all the unique geysers. Give yourself about 30 minutes to walk the boardwalks before heading west on the trail toward the Madison Plateau. Just 0.3 miles after leaving Biscuit Basin the trail forks; turn right to go to the Upper Geyser Basin Overlook or turn left to go to Mystic Falls. Both trails merge together after about 1 mile. From the Upper Geyser Basin overlook you can watch Old Faithful erupt and take in the view of the impressive basin. Mystic falls is a beautiful falls that cascades 70 feet from the Madison Plateau into Biscuit Basin. If you can't pick between the two and would like to see both, hike to the overlook and continue on the plateau until you reach the trail heading down to Mystic Falls. This option would add about 2 miles to the total length of the trip.
Once you leave the edge of the plateau the hike continues through thick young lodgepole pine. This forest type dominates much of Yellowstone's landscape since the massive stand-replacing fires of 1988. Things become more interesting as you reach the Little Firehole River, a beautiful river with iron-rich banks that give the water a rusty hue. As you drop into the river basin you'll hear the rumble of an unnamed falls, and this is near the backcountry campsite OD3. This site is a great option for camping on this trip. The other campsite on this trail is OD2, a private campsite in the forest on the edge of the impressive Little Firehole and Buffalo Meadows. The meadows are expansive and will provide ample opportunities to look for all the big game species. Fishing, bird watching, and star gazing are also great things to do in OD2. The little Firehole River provides good water access for both sites.
Heading north, the trail leaves the meadows and plunges back into the thick lodgepole forest before returning back to the brink of the plateau. As the plateau rolls into the Lower Geyser Basin the views become very interesting. Geysers can be seen steaming for miles throughout the basin. There are numerous clearings that are good for taking breaks and photos. After leaving the plateau you will quickly arrive at Imperial Geyser, an uncrowded, active geyser with beautiful colors. After checking out Imperial Geyser, follow the outflow creek back to the trail and continue to the junction for Fairy Falls. Turn right and head toward Fairy Falls. Fairy Falls gently cascades 197 feet off the Madison Plateau into a shallow blue pool. Fairy Creek continues to flow out into the Lower Geyser Basin and into the majestic Firehole River. Dense lodgepole pine forests cover the toe of the plateau and begin to open up into beautiful meadows dotted with springs. From the falls, continue north on the trail toward the Fairy Springs area, an active area in the Lower Geyser Basin. Where the trail meets the bridge, be sure to stop and check out the Ojo Caliente spring that flows into the Firehole River before heading back to the car. Finish the hike at the Freight Road Trailhead.
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