Pitchstone Plateau Trailhead - Yellowstone National Park
The Pitchstone Plateau is located southwest of Lewis Lake and south of the most southern edge of the caldera rim boundary. It is one of nine plateaus in the park and estimated to be only 70,000 years old. This trail description presents the 9.2-mile out-and-back destination point of Phantom Fumarole. A fumarole, also known as a steam vent, forms when the underground channels of magma penetrate hot rock. With relatively little water that drains into these features, it is instantly converted to steam that is forced upward and out of the vents with great intensity, producing a continuous jet engine like sound as it escapes through the vents.
The trail begins with a half-mile upward climb that includes patches of loose rocks. At the top of the rocky incline you are awarded with some scenic views of the Red Mountains to the east and also Mount Sheridan. Here the trail levels out and will take you through areas of burned trees and toppled timbers, thick forest area, and large meadows surrounded by conifers. At roughly 4.6-miles into the hike you arrive at Phantom Fumarole and the scorched white and gray soil throughout the area. If you choose to continue hiking this trail another mile it will take you to two backcountry campsites and a view of the Grand Tetons on the southern horizon.