The Beaver Ponds Trail in Yellowstone National Park offers a nice combination of open grasslands and forest. This mixture gives you great opportunities to see elk, small mammals, and a wide variety of other birds. Overall, it’s a great hike to do near the Mammoth Hot Springs area.
In the spring, much of Yellowstone National Park is still melting out of snow. The Beaver Ponds Trail near Mammoth Hot Springs melts out earlier and provides for a wonderful loop. We did the loop counter-clockwise, starting near the Old Gardiner Road. You may want to start near the Mammoth Terrace as the trailhead is easier to find. On this mostly cloudy day, it gave us nice cover as we wandered through the open sagebrush grassland with Mt. Everts serving as a wonderful backdrop.
We left the Mammoth Hot Springs area and worked our way through the grasslands enjoying the variety of birds flitting about, battling the wind. The trail wrapped around the flanks of Sepulcher Mountain and bounced in and out of trees. As it transitioned to more forested area, we ran into our first small elk herd. The trail continued to alternate between meadow and forest as we passed some more elk and ended up at the first of a few beaver bonds.
The wonderful thing about the Beaver Ponds Trail is that it offers a variety of beaver ponds which lends to a variety of wildlife. We saw a few small mammals such as the uinta ground squirrel, chipmunk and namesake beaver. The forest birds were aplenty with some fun antics from flirty woodpeckers.
Past the beaver ponds, the forest broke back out to the meadows again, albeit higher up on the hillside. It re-entered the woods and followed Clematis Creek down to the white Mammoth Terrace. Overall, a great loop that should be on the list of anyone looking for a nice hike in the Mammoth Hot Springs area.