DISTANCE: 4.2 MILES
Trail Type: Out and Back
Start Location: 1K4 Bunsen Peak Trailhead, Shared parking lot with Bunsen Peak and Osprey Falls hike
Total Hiking Time: ~2 hours; 1:00-3:00 pm
Weather: Spotty with strong winds, with intermittent snow and sunshine. 34 degrees F at the top!
Crowd: 5 hikers on our way in
Animal Sightings: Ruffed Grouse
Fishing Report: N/A
Parking at IK4 can occasionally be a challenge: anglers going to the Gardner River in Sheepeater Canyon, bicyclists touring a popular bike route to the upper canyon, and hikers traversing Bunsen Peak, Cache Lake, Sportman’s Lake, Sepulcher Mountain, Fawn Pass, Electric Peak, Osprey Falls, the Hoodoos… and I’m sure I’m missing some. The problem: no parking on the west side of the road at IK3 (the Glen Creek Trailhead). We caught it early in the season and in bad weather, so it wasn’t a problem on this trip.
Snow storms can come up fast in Yellowstone – this one sure did. We never hike in Yellowstone without good base layers (we use Merino wool, even in the summer) and rain jackets. This trip convinced us to add gloves to that list! On the north slope of Bunsen Peak, there were snowdrifts 4′-5′ feet tall, and covering 30′ or so sections of the trail. This year, there will be a large snowfield on the north slope near the top at least into June – you will lose the trail, but there are numerous trails to the peak dug into the scree slope. So… just follow one. Make it a loop by continuing East to the Osprey Falls Junction, and take the administrative road back to the trailhead. That same administrative road leads to Mammoth – not open for public vehicle use, but a former Xanterra employee said that hiking up to Bunsen Peak the back way is also an excellent option.
Surprisingly pleasant and would be a nice short dayhike for visitors in the summer.