DISTANCE: 6.4 MILES
Trail Type: One-way hike
Start Location: 4K1 to Loop C of Norris Campground
Total Hiking Time: 3 hours; 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Crowd: We had the trail to ourselves, even on Memorial Day weekend
Animal Sightings: chipmunks, mallard pair, elk, mule deer, black and grizzly bear tracks (no bear sightings), and ruffed grouse drumming in the meadows
Fishing Report: YNP FISHING OPENED YESTERDAY, MAY 28TH. The Solfatara Creek meadows above the campground are a great micro-fishing destination: plentiful brook trout in the 2″-4″ range in a remote, beautiful meadow. I had always read about the lower creek by the campground (which does get larger fish from the Gibbon River) so I brought too much rod (I hooked and lost a lot of tiny brookies, only brought one to hand). If I’m lucky enough to fish this stream again, I will bring a soft, short rod like my Shimotsuke Kiyotaki with size 18 and smaller drys and killer bugs to target micros. These little fish weren’t spooky, and they were looking up.
Trailhead 4K1 is well-marked on the east side of the Grand Loop, but looks seldom used (we were the only vehicle). Contrary to our guidebook, the other end is also well-marked from Loop C of the Norris Campground. The destination of this hike is certainly Whiterock Springs, a boiling-mud thermal area at the halfway point from either start. We didn’t run into any snow, but the meadow areas (especially the meadow directly south of Whiterock Springs) were boggy. (We heard at least two different ruffed grouse drumming, alongside elk and deer in this spectacular meadow.) North of the springs the trail mostly follows a transmission line corridor and isn’t spectacular, save the abundance of animal sign along this north-south bison super-highway. We saw black bear sign on the Lemonade Creek crossing, and Grizzly sign near Lake of the Woods. We decided to leave bikes in the Norris Campground and bike back to 4K1 on the brand new road (which has a nice, wide shoulder) after the hike, which was an excellent option.
Best least-used dayhike to a thermal area that we have found, but will unfortunately be closed from the north end starting June 1st (trailhead 4K1). We still recommend hiking from Norris Campground to Whiterock Springs.