Hiking Yellowstone Backcountry to Union Falls and Scout Pool

I am a leader for an all girls Venturing Crew for the BSA (Boy Scouts of America). Yes it is a group of girl boy scouts.  These girls are absolutely amazing!  Some of the things they do would blow your mind.  They can join the crew when they are 14 years old and as soon as my oldest daughter Jayde turned 14, she wanted to join. In fact, she knew long before she was 14 that she wanted to be a part of this.  I joined as a leader about a year ago and while I can’t make it to every activity, I have had the opportunity to do some amazing things with them!

Every year they do a week long High Adventure and being a leader/parent, I got the privilege to go.  Let me start off by saying, I am not a camper.  I HATE camping.  There are few things I hate as much as camping, but the things we do for our kids.  So it was a week long, Monday-Saturday camping trip…sleeping in a tent, bugs everywhere, stinky outhouses, freezing cold camping.  UGH!

If you noticed I said it was a privilege to go and I really mean that.  At the time I didn’t necessarily think so but looking back it was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience.  These amazing experiences don’t usually happen by just staying home and sleeping in your bed. You have to get out of your comfort zone and sleep outdoors.  You have to be willing to go do something you might not love (camping) to get experiences like the one I’m about to share with you.

We stayed a boy scout camp called Camp Loll.  It is in the Tetons between Jackson Hole and Yellowstone.  I went to yellowstone once when I was about 12 and did the touristy things and it was amazing, but hiking in the back country was something out of this world. It is an experience I will never forget. One of the coolest things was seeing my daughter do something so hard and literally grinding her way through the last mile.  But more about that in a minute 🙂

We started out bright and early about 7am.  We drove from camp about 2.5 miles to the trailhead.  It was so cool seeing the sign that we were entering Yellowstone National Park.  And not only that, doing it in a way that most people will never get to.

We started out by hiking down a good sized hill.  It was about a 1/2 mile and super rocky, which meant that was what we had to look forward to coming out!  Shortly after the hill, we came to a river called Cascade Creek that we had to ford.  It wasn’t very wide or deep but it was COLD!  So cold that my legs and feet hurt like I was being stabbed with a million little needles when I got out. I definitely recommend bringing water shoes to change into because you do have to ford two rivers, two times.

I knew we had another river coming up so I just kept my water shoes on until after the second river.  A little less than a mile from Cascade Creek we came to a second river called Falls River.  This one was much bigger and it was deep!  I was so worried about the cold, especially after that first river.  And with how wide and deep this river was, I was really freaking myself out.  We had to walk in pairs because the current was really strong and it definitely helped to have someone to hold onto.  When I stepped into the water preparing for the worst, I was pleasantly surprised that it really wasn’t cold at all.  I can definitely handle that!

Once across the river, we put our hiking shoes back on.  Someone had Gold Bond powder and that was amazing for drying your feet off.  You definitely don’t want to have wet feet and socks on a hike of this size or you’ll end up with blisters.  Also, I highly recommend wearing shoes you are used to.  I wore my good old tennis shoes that I wear everyday to the gym and I was so glad I did.  I had new hiking boots but just didn’t have enough time to break them in and didn’t dare wear them.  And in the end, one of the only people in our group of 20 that didn’t end up with blisters, was me.

After the second river, we had to hike up quite a big hill, which was fine because we were fresh and feeling good.  The scenery all around us was constantly changing and absolutely gorgeous!

 (My cute girl)

The trail was pretty flat for several miles and then we came to a super steep downhill that our scout guide called cardiac hill. We all knew that would be fun hiking on our way back when we were exhausted and dying.  Haha!  After cardiac hill, it was pretty flat the rest of the way.  We crossed a couple of rivers and again, the scenery was just gorgeous!  These iPhone pictures don’t even do it justice. Since we were with a bunch of girls, we had to stop every 5 minutes for a bathroom break. Haha!  But eventually we made it to the spot we were going to eat lunch at.  We had lunch and headed on the trail to Union Falls, about a half mile hike.

The first sight of Union Falls was absolutely breathtaking.  I can’t even put into words how amazing it was.  We just sat and stared in amazement.  It was enormous and even though we were far from it, we could feel the mist coming off of the waterfall.  Union Falls is the second highest waterfall in Yellowstone and is 260 feet tall.

We stuck around for a bit and took pictures and I even got a little cell service and was able to text my husband, Chris.  It was so good for my soul to be there and to experience that with my daughter and to also be able to talk to my husband and make sure him and our younger daughter Savana were doing ok.

After Union Falls, we hiked back down to the area we ate lunch and everyone changed into their swimming suits.  It was another half mile hike in the opposite direction to Scout Pool.  Scout Pool is a thermally heated pool of water and it was turquoise blue.  Again, these pictures just do do it justice.

There is a little rock you can jump off of into the pool.   I am a huge, huge baby when it comes to water, especially water that is even slightly cool in any way.  This water, although “thermally heated” didn’t feel that warm to me and I totally wasn’t going to jump.  As I sat there talking myself out of it, I also simultaneously talked myself into it somehow.  Something about “no regrets” and “living life” along with “being a good example and leader.” I surprised even myself by getting up and climbing up on the rock.  As I stood up there, it looked a lot higher than I thought it was.  After about 3 times of saying I was going to do it and not, and everyone yelling at me to do it, I did it!  I know this doesn’t sound like much, and the rock was probably only about 8 feet high but it was a HUGE accomplishment for me and one I am super proud of.

And since I didn’t get it on video, I just HAD to go back up and do it again so I had proof because I knew no one would believe that I did it without proof.  Here’s the video.  It’s a really crappy video because the waterproof case I had my phone in got bug spray on it and made it cloudy.


 (My cute girl again.  She doesn’t hate water like I do and jumped lots of times)

After all of our fun, we had an 8 mile hike back to look forward to.  Now the exhaustion was starting to set in. We started hiking back and there were a lot more stops for water, snacks, bathroom and now fixing blisters.

Hiking back from the lunch site to cardiac hill wasn’t too bad.  It was mostly flat and easy, but once we hit cardiac hill, it was brutal.  We were all getting to the point of just putting one foot in front of the other.  The hike up was hard and by the time I reached the top, I was out of water.  Luckily our scout guide had a lot of water with him and nobody died because he was prepared.  Just like a true scout!  Haha!  We made it up the hill, some of us ran the last part.  What is it about people?  One person starts running so every feels like they need to.  I like the competition and I refuse to be beat and let’s be honest, there is something that feels so good about doing something so hard, like running up the hill when you’re already beaten down and exhausted.  Doing hard things is awesome!

The rest of the way was fairly flat, we forded those two rivers again and then we were back to the 1/2 mile hill at the beginning. Which this time around felt like 5 miles.  I admit, I am in great shape and this was brutal for me.  My daughter, Jayde is not the most physical person in the world and while we spent some time beforehand getting her ready and working out together, this was really tough!  The last couple miles were spent giving lots of encouragement and praise.  That last 1/2 mile uphill was SO hard. She kept going and didn’t give up or complain….ok maybe a little complaining but she kept saying she could do it and she did!  It was so amazing as a mom watching her at her limits and push through it.  I knew I could do it and I knew she could too but it was a matter of her knowing she could.

We did it and it was awesome!  Not only can I do hard things, I love doing hard things!  When you can overcome something so hard and brutal, you feel absolutely on top of the world!  It was the second hardest thing I have physically done, only second to running Ragnar.  We were exhausted and hungry and beat up, but we did something amazing, saw something amazing and are better for it.

I walked 20 miles that day!  20 MILES!  It took us 12 hours round trip.  And now I can say I have seen something most people will never see.  Our bodies are capable of amazing things and I love, love, love pushing mine and seeing what it’s capable of.

When I got back to the car, I had a box of individual packs Pringles in my trunk and I kid you not, I ate probably 5.  It was the most amazing food on the planet in that moment!  Haha!  And I slept pretty good that night….despite being camping.


If you want some legit directions on how to get to and accomplish this hike, I found this link that will help.

What to bring:

  • Lots of water-  I had a whole water backpack full and it wasn’t enough.  You could also bring a water filter because there are plenty of rivers to fill up at.
  • Snacks-  It’s a long hike so bring lots of snacks
  • Lunch-  We were gone for 12 hours so you’ll definitely need to bring a sack lunch
  • Phone/camera- The views are amazing and although the pictures on a phone aren’t great, at least they’re something
  • Sunscreen-  It was hot and we were in the sun a lot
  • Water shoes- You ford 2 rivers and you’ll definitely want dry feet afterwards.
  • Extra socks- Just in case.
  • Gold Bond powder- This stuff was a lifesaver for drying feet after the rivers.
  • Towel- Bring a lightweight towel for drying feet after the river and drying your body after Scout Pool
  • Swimming suit-  You’re going want to swim at Scout Pool so definitely bring a swimming suit.
  • Bear spray-  Yes there are bears. No we didn’t see one, but just in case.



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This post may contain affiliate links which give me a small commission at no extra cost to you, and helps keep this content free! 

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