If you and your family are into hiking, Yellowstone has a wide variety of trails to choose from. You can take week long backpacks that test you skills or short easy strolls that nearly everyone can enjoy. One hike that is on the easy side is Natural Bridge, near Lake Village. There are actually 2 trailheads to choose from.
The main hiking trail starts near the Bridge Bay Campground. After about ½ of a mile, you reach an old road. After walking another mile, the trail does a little loop that goes by Natural Bridge.
The Bridge Bay Campground is the largest in the park with more than 425 campsites. It has a great amphitheater where campers can attend evening programs with park rangers.
The second trailhead is used mostly by bicyclist and starts just south of Bridge Bay. If you take a bike on this route, watch for hikers and please stay on the pavement. Whichever way you go, the roundtrip hike or bike is about 3 miles long.
Natural Bridge was formed when freezing and thawing over time allowed Bridge Creek to erode a path below a 51 foot tall wall of rhyolite. Geographers call that process freeze/thaw plucking. The arch spans nearly 30 feet and the top is closed to all travel.
Both Bridge Bay and Bridge Creek were named for the natural bridge. Bridge Bay was deepened in the early 1960s to make room for the marina that had been in front of Lake Hotel.
In spring, much of this area is closed for bear management. Grizzly bears fish along the creeks that flow into Yellowstone Lake, including Bridge Creek. Yellowstone’s native cutthroat trout spawn in these shallow creeks until early summer. Check at the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center for closure dates.
Whenever you hike or bike in Yellowstone, watch for bears. If possible hike in groups and make noise. Most people prefer to carry bear spray when hiking here. If you use good bear country etiquette, the hiking in Yellowstone is some of the best in the country, even the short hikes like Natural Bridge.