This 4.6-mile (7.4 km) round trip hike climbs 1,300 feet taking you to the summit of Bunsen Peak and some amazing views of Swan Lake Flats, Blacktail Deer Plateau, Gardner Canyon, the Yellowstone River Valley, and the Gallatin Mountain Range. As you hike, the Golden Gate Canyon and Hoodoos are seen off to the west. At approximately 1 mile into your hike you enter an open south facing slope as the trail heads north again. You will pass through areas that were ravaged by the 1988 fires leaving standing dead trees. At about 1.5 miles into your hike the trail takes a sharp right turn at a large rock feature known as Cathedral Rock, leading to spectacular open views of Mount Everts and Mammoth Hot Springs. Here the trail climbs sharply, but you are aided by multiple switchbacks. In places where the trail is heavy talus, pay close attention so as not to lose the trail, and watch your footing. The trail then takes a series of south, north, south and north again directions until arriving at the back side of Bunsen. At the summit there is a weather station and many beautiful views of all that is below – Mount Homes to the south, the Absorokas to the north, Electric Peak to the west, etc., etc., etc. If you choose to continue hiking down the other or east side of the mountain the trail will soon merge with the Bunsen Peak Road Trail and the junction to Osprey Falls Trail.
Osprey Falls Trail:
To reach the trailhead for Osprey Falls, you first travel 3.4 miles on the Bunsen Peak Trail before reaching the junction. From the junction it is a 1.2-mile hike that drops, in some places rather steeply, over 700 feet into Sheepeater Canyon and the base of the beautiful Osprey Falls on the Gardner River. The first half of the Osprey Falls Trail hike runs atop the canyon and through burned forest. The second half of the hike begins a series of switchbacks as the trail descends steeply, and sometimes somewhat precariously, toward the falls. The last short section of the trail levels out as it follows the Gardner River upstream to the base of the beautiful 150-foot Osprey Falls. Because of the steep terrain and switchbacks, it is recommended to wear good hiking boots with ankle support. A walking stick can also be very handy.