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Uncle Tom's Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (19)

Have fun scaling the incline stairs more than 300 feet down to the bottom of the canyon!


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Map Key

0.4

Miles

0.6

KM

Point to Point

7,776' 2,370 m

High

7,423' 2,263 m

Low

6' 2 m

Up

358' 109 m

Down

18%

Avg Grade (10°)

53%

Max Grade (28°)

Dogs Unknown

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Although the trail is short, it is steep and very strenuous. At nearly 8000 feet above sea level it can be a tough climb back to the trailhead.

Description

Uncle Tom's Trail is the oldest and most famous trail into the canyon, and the closest trail to the face of Lower Falls. The 0.4 mile trail makes use of a series of stairways, containing more than 300 steps, to reach an observation platform directly in front of the 308-foot Lower Falls.

When originally constructed by Uncle Tom Richardson in the late 1800s, the trail included a series of rope ladders that scaled 400 feet down the canyon walls. Hardy visitors would spend the day with Uncle Tom, first ferrying across the Yellowstone River (before the Chittenden Bridge was constructed in the early 1900s) then ascending the South Rim to the top of Uncle Tom's Trail, finally climbing down the rope ladders to view the falls. A picnic lunch was served before the return trip.

In 1889, a license was sought for the construction of a huge elevator that would have seriously defaced the opposite wall of the canyon. Opposition by Park Superintendent Boutelle forced the withdrawal of the objectionable request.

Enjoy the view of the falls from the bottom and charge-up your batteries for the steep climb out!

Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Carter

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 19 votes

#347

Overall
  4.5 from 19 votes
5 Star
53%
4 Star
42%
3 Star
5%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#18

in Wyoming

#347

Overall
39 Views Last Month
4,639 Since Sep 10, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

8%
0%
15%
8%
69%
0%

Photos

Rainbow over the yellow canyon, and the steep stairs on Uncle Tom's Trail.
May 19, 2016 near Canyon…, WY
Lower Yellowstone Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail.
Sep 10, 2015 near Canyon…, WY
Going down was the easy part!
Jun 11, 2017 near Canyon…, WY
Uncle Tom's Trail.
Mar 7, 2016 near Canyon…, WY

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Bad / Closed 47 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Sep 8, 2022
Patti Cross
Trail closed off
Jul 17, 2022
MEGUMI KOSHIGA
Jul 17, 2022
Koshiga Norimichi
Oct 20, 2021
Keri Chipman
Check
Jul 25, 2021
Ryan Seyler
Apr 17, 2021
Tyler Cheek
Aug 11, 2020
Claudia Guzman
Trail closed due to maintenance.
Jul 14, 2020
Kirstin Moertl