DISTANCE: 9.8 MILES
Trail Type: Out and Back
Start Location: 4K6 Glacial Boulder Trailhead, 0.4 miles from turn to Inspiration Point
Total Hiking Time: ~7 hours
Crowd: ~ 4 parties each day
Animal Sightings: Black Bear, Coyote, Osprey, Blacktail Deer, Chipmunks, Squirrels
Big, wild, beautiful Yellowstone cutthroat with neon orange slashes— a completely indigenous strain. And they’re (surprisingly) big: I caught two over 14″, and the smallest was still 8″. I started an hour before sunset, and there were already large (size 16 or better) PED’s laying over the water, but only sporadic rises. Lots of saddle caddis on the rocks, though, and a green rock worm fished DEEP pulled a nice cutthroat out of the depths. As soon as the caddis started their fly-over (a nice, fat, tan size 14) a small fish hit my indicator, and a quick survey discovered fish rising everywhere. I took another five in quick order, and they were still rising when I walked up.
Judging by the many stonefly nymphs I saw, this would be the trip of a lifetime during the salmon-fly hatch. But, whatever you bring, make it a high-floater with good visibility— this is THE canyon, after all, at 2,000 cfs.
Who knew they’d let you camp in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone? 4C1 has to be one of the best campsites in the park—you’re on top of an active (and delicate) geothermal area, and 40 feet above the Yellowstone River with world-class views. Wake up early to enjoy the fumarole steam over the Yellowstone in the morning sunlight. Water is scarce until you hike down into the canyon, and the walk down from 4C1 can be precarious. (I’ve read 4C2 and 4C3 are closer to water, but lack the views.)
The hike to the descent is all lodgepole pine, a shady, easy, wonderful hike. We saw a black bear cross the trail 20 yards ahead of us, despite the heavy traffic. The descent is a tour of active and inactive thermal features, but it is a VERY STEEP GRADE AND ROCKS CAN BE LOOSE.
Everything you could want in a Yellowstone experience.