Madison Area Day Hikes in Yellowstone

A fun way to explore the beauty of Yellowstone National Park is hiking the trails. Here’s a list of Madison area day hikes in Yellowstone: hike length, difficulty, trailhead location, and important things to know.

This Yellowstone National Park travel guide also includes important things like what to pack, where to stay, and other things to do on your vacation.

Madison Area Yellowstone Hikes

The Madison area is located along the Yellowstone National Park Southern Loop.

There are only three hiking trails located in the Madison area of Yellowstone. You’ll see spectacular landscape scenes of this stunning national park on all of these Yellowstone hikes!!

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Best Season for Hiking at Yellowstone

If you plan to do any hiking, there are definite best times to visit Yellowstone National Park for exploring the hiking trails in the Madison area.

Many Yellowstone hiking trails can be wet and muddy during the spring and early summer months. Snow may linger on higher elevation trails until July. Make sure you have waterproof hiking shoes to handle wet trail conditions. In the winter you’ll need snowshoes to explore the trails!

Madison Area Day Hikes in Yellowstone

The area around Madison has three day hikes to explore, two of them being an easy hike in Yellowstone National Park.

Check out these three day hikes to explore Madison. We’ve detailed everything you need to know before setting out!

Be prepared and pack all essentials needed for any hiking trail in Yellowstone:

family hiking at Yellowstone
Family hiking at Yellowstone

Harlequin Lake Trail

  • Hike length: 1 mile round trip
  • Time required: 30 to 60 minutes 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead location: Located on the West Entrance road, 1.5 miles west of Madison Campground

Coming from West Yellowstone, you will see a small hiking sign with a parking area located a few miles before the Madison junction.

Harlequin Lake Trail leads to a small, marshy lake frequented by mosquitoes and waterfowl in the middle of a burnt lodgepole pine forest. Harlequin Lake was initially called “Secret Lake” due to its secluded location near the road during the late 1940s and 50s.

Originally, trumpeter swans were frequently nested at the lake, but in 1958, the lake was named after the brightly colored duck. 

Returning the same way, the trail is a pleasant and quick hike away from the road. It is not overcrowded and it is suitable for people of all ages.

Two Ribbons Trail Yellowstone
Two Ribbons Trail at sunset

Two Ribbons Trail

  • Hike length: 0.7 miles
  • Time required: 15 minutes 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead location: Located approximately 5 miles east of the West Entrance. Look for wayside exhibits in large pull-outs adjacent to the boardwalk.

Along the Madison River, the Two Ribbons Trail boardwalk loop trail weaves its way through burnt lodgepole pine and sagebrush.

It’s a fun location to look for osprey, eagles, elk, and other wildlife along the riverbank.

This is a nice family-friendly hike at Yellowstone!

Purple Mountain Trail

  • Hike length: 6 miles roundtrip
  • Time required: 3 to 5 hours 
  • Hike difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous (steady climb of 1,500 feet) 
  • Trailhead location: Turnout approximately 1/4 mile north of Madison Junction.

The Purple Mountain Trail ascends through an intermittent burnt lodgepole pine forest. Due to the steady climb, this hike is not recommended for anyone with heart and/or respiratory problems.

The trail ends with a picturesque view of the Firehole Valley and lower Gibbon Valley. You can also see part of the Madison Junction area from here.

Yellowstone Day Hikes

Yellowstone maps and guides

Places to stay in West Yellowstone

Places to stay in Gardiner

Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate

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