YNP\GTNP 2014 – 8\5 2014 – Union Falls

Not to be deterred from yesterday’s mishap, we decided to do Union Falls today. Union Falls is the second largest waterfall in Yellowstone at 230 feet tall. This is second only to the Lower Falls in the Canyon area that are 305 feet tall. The falls are in a remote area of the park that is infrequently visited. During the day, we only saw three other groups over 12 hours of hiking. We got up early and left camp at about 5:30 AM to drive to the trailhead. The road got pretty rough however so I was forced to park along the road about a half mile away. This added a mile to the hike for a total of 18, the highest of the trip. 

After about a mile of hiking you have to cross the Falls River, which was running rather high from the rains over the past 24 hours. The river is about 30 yards wide and with the increased flow was running about waist deep on the far end. It was a bit nerve wracking to make the crossing but also fun. We got thoroughly soaked. 

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The trail was forested the entire way and the bugs were beyond description. I wore heavy clothes and my rain jacket the entire day so my body was OK, but I got no less than 10 bites on my face and more on my hands. The bugs are renown in this section of the park, but are supposed to be greatly reduced by August. Unfortunately this was a very wet winter for the Rockies and the mosquitoes were still very much alive and well. The trail is in great condition though, so the hiking was easy. 

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Along the the way the trail was lined with huckleberry bushes, we ate many, many, many of them.

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After a long hike we finally reached the falls. They’re called Union Falls because tow rivers meet here and the falls are where they join. You can see the second river off to the left joining lower down the falls. This is one of, if not the, most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen. 

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Also close to the falls is the Ouzel Pool, or Scout’s Pool as the locals call it (for the frequent Boy Scout troops that visit it from nearby Camp Loll, one of which was there today). The water is heated by a hot spring upstream and comes down the falls in the mid 80’s for temp. There is a pool at the base about 6 feet deep and you can jump from the rocks into the pool. Sara and I swam for about 20 minutes and hiked back. It was wonderful as the day was cool and wet so warming up a bit was nice. 

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This was a really great hike, but it’s long and not a lot to see through the trees along the way. Between that at the bugs, I would wait until a later time of year and also make an overnighter out of this if I did it again. 

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