Hiking Mystic Falls, Fairy Creek & Little Firehole Loop, Yellowstone, WY

You’ll have to hit this waterfall lollipop if you’re in the Upper Geyser Basin area near Old Faithful. It’s a short, 3.5-mile trail that will take around 2 hours to complete. It features a beautiful waterfall, a challenging switchback climb, an unobstructed view of Biscuit Basin, and the most beautiful overlook of the endless Yellowstone forest. It’s easy enough to do with kids and short enough to include it in nearly any itinerary in the West Yellowstone region. Let’s get into some beta!

Quick Beta

  • Mileage: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 606 ft.
  • Highest Point: 7,809 ft.
  • Best time to visit: Late May through mid-October
  • Total hiking time: 2 hours
  • Kid-friendly: Yes.
  • Dog-friendly: No.
  • Gear I brought: Backpack, water, snacks, knife, first aid kit, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, extra layer, camera, compass.
The trail to the falls. Onward!

The hike

The hike starts out in the Biscuit Basin area, about 3.5 miles north of Old Faithful at Yellowstone. You’ll begin your hike on the boardwalk, so make sure you take in those paint pots and pools before you head onto the trail! Once you arrive on the trail, follow the well-marked trail. There’s a split in the road – Mercedes and I did this loop clockwise, choosing the trail to the left. In my opinion, this is the way to do it! You’ll be going up either way, but heading to the left allows you to see the waterfall first without any elevation gain.

The river is beautiful!
These pools are way too cool! I don’t think either of us got tired of seeing them!

Once you head left, you’ll be greeted with a gentle trail that barely escalates in elevation. You’ll gain about 100 feet over half a mile. Pretty gentle if you ask me! Once you arrive to the falls, take off your backpack and take in the waterfall. It’s so pretty! We stopped here to eat some snacks and drink water.

The trail closely follows the Little Firehole River the whole time!
The Little Firehole River and the trail. How pretty is this!
Your first look at the falls!

From here, you’ll gain some elevation to your viewpoint. If you’re considering turning around the way you came, let me try to convince you to stay. The views along the way were just spectacular. Seeing a full, healthy forest and the tiny Biscuit Basin at the overlook was totally worth it. It’s part of the whole experience! Plus, adding the overlook is about the same mileage as turning around but, you get to see something else. Do it!

At Mystic Falls! If you brought a bathing suit, this is a great place to take a dip!
One of your overlooks on the switchbacks as you ascend to higher elevation!

Need to Know

You are in bear country. Remember to keep a clean trail. Always pack it in, and pack it out. If you see a bear, make yourself large and shout! Gather any small children near to you to help yourself appear bigger and to prevent a bear from singling them out and isolating them.

Please adhere to the wildlife safety rules. Stay at least 25 yards away from bison, moose, elk, deer, pronghorn, and other non-carnivorous animals. Stay away at least 100 yards away from bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, cougars, and other carnivorous animals. It’s for your safety and theirs!

While this is one of the shorter and easier hikes in Yellowstone, it is at a sustained elevation. Remember to take breaks if you’re not used to high elevation, drink lots of water, and seek protection from the sun. Use hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and long layers to help decrease sun exposure on your skin!

One of your best views of Mystic Falls is near the top of the switchbacks. It’s incredible!
70 feet tall! Now that’s pretty cool!
The trail through the forest. Nearly to the overlook!

Justin’s Suggestion

If you’re going to be traveling through West Yellowstone, it’s worth the stop. It’s probably one of the best hikes you can do in Yellowstone to see a waterfall and an overlook. I’d repeat it next time I go as it’s so fun!

We hiked this route clockwise, and I can see benefits in both directions. Going clockwise allows you to see the falls first, play in the river, have lunch, and decide if you want to do the overlook or not. Going counterclockwise allows you to get all the elevation gain out of the way in the first half, see the overlook, and descend to the waterfall and river. From there, you can dip in the river to relieve the sweat off your back (literally) and have a nice relaxing, flat hike out. Either option is fantastic!

We’re getting close to the overlook. Nearly there, just five more minutes!
This is what you’ve come for. This overlook is just beautiful!
Early July wildflowers dotted our descent from the overlook. It was just so darn pretty!
More wildflowers. This hike spoiled us rotten with beauty!

Take A Hike!

Have a great time on this trail! It’s super rad! Mercedes and I were so happy we did this hike. The parking situation was pretty easy compared to other hot spots around the park, especially in a season with historic flooding. I remember doing the Biscuit Basin portion of this trip in 2020 and the parking lot situation was pretty similar.

If you’re looking for more hikes in Yellowstone, check out LeHardy Rapids or the Natural Bridge Trail. For all my other Yellowstone blogs and for all future Yellowstone blogs, head to my Yellowstone page!

Until next time!

Parting shot:

The gorgeous trail down. It was just an exquisite time on this trail.

Next blog: Maybe a recap of Biscuit Basin? It can be a short one with lots of photos? That’s what I’m thinking!!

7 thoughts on “Hiking Mystic Falls, Fairy Creek & Little Firehole Loop, Yellowstone, WY

  1. Mystic Falls is absolutely luscious with its cascading waters! The hike over is equally gorgeous, with such a beautiful, blue-sky day! And to answer your questions in the end: I think a short one with lots of photos doesn’t hurt! Happy hiking. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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