Don’t let the image of a boring picnic trail turn you off this hike. The Yellowstone River Picnic Trail in Yellowstone National Park is a true gem in the Tower-Roosevelt area, offering both wildlife sightings and scenic views of the canyon and its thermal features.
The first half of the trail follows the Yellowstone River, winding along the top of a steep canyon wall amidst sagebrush, pines, and large boulders. Also, keep your eyes peeled for this hike’s two thermal features: Nymph Spring and Calcite Springs. Calcite Springs was one of the scenes painted by Thomas Moran and presented to Congress in 1872, resulting in the establishment of America’s first national park.
About 1.9 miles in, the trail forks. Turning left (north) will complete the loop and take you through a wide grassy expanse to the Specimen Ridge Trailhead (2K7). A short roadside walk will get you back to 2K4. Turning right (east) at the fork takes you up a steep climb, where you can choose to continue to Specimen Ridge or Agate Creek.