DISTANCE: 6.8 MILES
Trail Type: Out and Back
Start Location: Just East of the Madison Junction
Total Hiking Time: 3 hours; 1-4:00 pm
Weather: Mostly cloudy with intermittent light rain
Crowd: 8 hikers on our way up, a small family (with children!) at the top
Animal Sightings: N/A
Fishing Report: N/A
Parking at the trailhead is limited to 4-5 vehicles, but it’s within walking distance of the Madison Campground and Information Center. From the top, 10×42’s were able to identify bison calves along the Gibbon River, and, even with cloud cover, we were able to see the Lower Geyser basin clearly. Purple Mountain is an 8,433 foot peak, and May is early, but no snow on this southern slope trail.
It’s a funny feeling to reduce the enormity of the Lower Geyser Basin into a single field of view, and it’s the best spot in the park to divine the origins of the Madison River. Great exercise, good early season day-hike, and short enough to keep children interested.