The craggy territory and intense snowpack around Cooke City means easy, short waterfall hikes just outside town (and outside Yellowstone National Park). Knock them all out in one day, or pick one or two for a waterfall picnic.
Sheep Creek Falls
Defying its tame namesake, Sheep Creek Falls thunders into Soda Butte Creek and the hike, while a short .6 miles round trip, isn’t so subdued either. More of a scramble over downed timber from the 1988 wildfire, the hike takes you 200 vertical feet up to a closer view of the falls and surrounding peaks.
Directions: From Cooke City, head west on Highway 212 for 1.1 miles to a parking pullout by Sheep Creek bridge. Get scrambling.
Find a fairy-tale scene of mist and moss at Bridal Falls, where a 40-foot plunge shoots straight out of a granite wall. The trail to the falls is an easy .6 miles round trip, but be wary of wet rocks near the base of the falls.
Directions: From Silver Gate, turn south on to Monument Avenue, driving .2 miles to a left on Bannock. Park just before the Wyoming Creek bridge at .8 miles, then continue over the bridge to find the trail.
Woody Falls plummets 150 feet through steep canyon walls, cascading over three tiers. You can hike the 3-mile round trip trail in the summer and Nordic ski it in the winter.
Directions: Start in Cooke City, turning south down Republic Road. The road splits at .1 miles. Go left onto an unpaved road and find parking .2 miles down.
Start your hike on the jeep road, taking the well-defined path to the left. If you miss it, you’ll end up on a short spur that takes you to a smaller cascade and continues over Woody Creek to Mohawk Mine. (Enjoy the smaller falls if you like, but seriously, don’t play in old mines.)
An easy two-mile round trip hike rewards you with magnificent Silver Falls, pouring more than 100 feet over an imposing limestone cliff face.
Directions: The trailhead for Silver Falls is essentially the west end of Silver Gate, so just park in town and walk to the gravel road on the north side of the highway.
At the private road sign, take the trail to the left, following it for 60 feet and then turning right at the trail sign. At a three-way trail split, take the middle road and follow the trail signs to Silver Creek.
None of these falls is more than a couple miles from Silver Gate or Cooke City, or more than a few miles’ hike. Plus, most people zip by on their way to Yellowstone National Park. Break free of the herd and find a new favorite waterfall.