Welcome to the blog for Steve Hinch Photography.

On this page you'll find photographic information on the places I've photographed recently as well as some technical information on the photographs themselves. I'll also post updates on what I've seen and experienced in Yellowstone and abroad, current wildlife sightings, and anything else of interest.  Check back often for updates!

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Yellowstone's Backcountry- Bighorn Pass Trail

September 03, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Yellowstone National Park has over 900 miles of hiking trails yet most park visitors only visit the roadside attractions, never stepping foot into the park's vast backcountry.  This article is number five in the series and features the Bighorn Pass Trail.  There's a good reason many don't walk Yellowstone's trails, the road system was designed to take visitors directly to the park's most famous features, including Old Faithful and Lower Falls.  In fact, in modern times, the roads have been re-routed, moving them a little further away from roadside attractions.  The paved trail from the Old Faithful Inn to Morning Glory Pool was once the main park road.  If you've ever walked this path, imagine the impact today if this remained the main park road!  Many trails are long and/or difficult to access.  While this trail isn't particularly difficult, it is located along US 191 in a section of Yellowstone National Park that few people visit, though many travel through it from Big Sky or Bozeman on the way to West Yellowstone.

The Bighorn Pass trail can be as long as a 21 mile round trip hike up to Bighorn Pass, gaining about 1900 feet elevation, or it can be a short or medium length out and back hike, going as far as you like and then hiking back to the trailhead.  Once you reach campsite WB6 at about 6.5 miles, no off trail hiking is allowed as the trail enters the Gallatin bear management area.  Up to this point, the trail is mostly flat, with amazing views and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.  Be sure to carry bear spray and keep alert for grizzly or black bears, which may be seen in this area.  Crowfoot Ridge dominates the views for much of this hike, and that's not a bad thing.  Like other hikes in this area, while wildlife can be encountered anytime, anywhere, the scenery is the main attraction here.  This is another one of those hikes where the trail itself and the spectacular scenery are the attraction.  Also, you shouldn't find a lot of other hikers here, providing solitude that probably won't be found on the popular trails inside Yellowstone such as the trails up Mount Washburn or to Fairy Falls.  If solitude and beautiful scenery are what you're looking for, then you'll love this trail!


Yellowstone's Backcountry- Daly Creek Trail

September 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Yellowstone National Park has over 900 miles of hiking trails yet most park visitors only visit the roadside attractions, never stepping foot into the park's vast backcountry.  This article is number four in the series and features the Daly Creek Trail.  There's a good reason many don't walk Yellowstone's trails, the road system was designed to take visitors directly to the park's most famous features, including Old Faithful and Lower Falls.  In fact, in modern times, the roads have been re-routed, moving them a little further away from roadside attractions.  The paved trail from the Old Faithful Inn to Morning Glory Pool was once the main park road.  If you've ever walked this path, imagine the impact today if this remained the main park road!  Many trails are long and/or difficult to access.  While this trail isn't particularly difficult, it is located along US 191 in a section of Yellowstone National Park that few people visit, though many travel through it from Big Sky or Bozeman on the way to West Yellowstone.

The Daly Creek trail features some amazing scenery yet isn't particularly difficult, at least for the first 3.5 miles or so, where it reaches a backcountry campsite and then begins climbing into the surrounding mountains.  In July, the meadows here can be full of wildflowers, creating beautiful carpets of color mixed in with the sagebrush and occasional wooded areas.  In fact, much of this hike is in the open, so sunscreen is a must and bug spray can be helpful.  Bear spray is always recommended and a variety of wildlife might be viewed when hiking here.  The trail is about 10.4 miles in length, if you hike out and back, but a number of long loop hikes can also be done.  Check trail maps for this area in order to choose a loop, or just hike out as far as you like and then return to the trailhead.  While some hikes lead to waterfalls or thermal features, providing a destination for the hiker, on this trail, and others in the area, the destination is the trail itself.  Beautiful scenery abounds and is experienced from the very first step on the trail and solitude is almost guaranteed!


Yellowstone's Backcountry- Gneiss Creek Trail

August 27, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Yellowstone National Park has over 900 miles of hiking trails yet most park visitors only visit the roadside attractions, never stepping foot into the park's vast backcountry.  This article is number three in the series and features the Gneiss Creek Trail.  There's a good reason many don't walk Yellowstone's trails, the road system was designed to take visitors directly to the park's most famous features, including Old Faithful and Lower Falls.  In fact, in modern times, the roads have been re-routed, moving them a little further away from roadside attractions.  The paved trail from the Old Faithful Inn to Morning Glory Pool was once the main park road.  If you've ever walked this path, imagine the impact today if this remained the main park road!  Many trails are long and/or difficult to access.  While this trail isn't particularly difficult, it is located along US 191 in a section of Yellowstone National Park that few people visit, though many travel through it from Big Sky or Bozeman on the way to West Yellowstone.

There are actually two access points to the Gneiss Creek trail, one from US 191 north of West Yellowstone and the other is inside Yellowstone National Park, along the West Entrance road, near a bridge over the Madison River.  This trail is closed to hiking until July 1st as it traverses a bear management area and the closure is to keep hikers and bears away from each other.  Other times of year, it's unlikely to encounter a  bear here, though it is always recommended to carry bear spray.  This hike has very little elevation change over it's 14 or so miles, and features some stunning scenery.  In July, once the restriction has been lifted, wildflowers bloom in abundance in the meadows, making this trail one of the best in the park to see wildflowers.

Most people will do this hike as an out and back hike, starting at either end and then hiking back to where they started.  Doing this, I actually prefer to start outside the park on US 191.  At about the middle of the hike, the trail can be flooded early in the season, in this case, early July, though it will be mostly dry the rest of the summer.  In fact, since much of this hike is out in the open, it can be pretty warm during the hot days of summer, so bring sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water.  If you do choose to give this trail a try, the scenery is wonderful and you should have lots of solitude, despite the ease of access in finding the trail.


Yellowstone's Backcountry- Fairy Falls Trail

August 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Yellowstone National Park has over 900 miles of hiking trails yet most park visitors only visit the roadside attractions, never stepping foot into the park's vast backcountry.   This article is number two in the series and features the Fairy Falls Trail. There's a good reason many don't walk Yellowstone's trails, the road system was designed to take visitors directly to the park's most famous features, including Old Faithful and Lower Falls.  In fact, in modern times, the roads have been re-routed, moving them a little further away from roadside attractions.  The paved trail from the Old Faithful Inn to Morning Glory Pool was once the main park road.  If you've ever walked this path, imagine the impact today if this remained the main park road!  Many trails are long and/or difficult to access.  The trail to Fairy Falls is neither!  Accessed from a large, usually full, parking lot near Midway Geyser Basin, this is one of the most popular trails in Yellowstone.  While I want to feature places seldom seen in this series of articles, I decided to include Fairy Falls as an alternative to the longer, more difficult hike to Union Falls.

The trail to Fairy Falls follows an old road that traverses the back side of Grand Prismatic Hot Springs.  Stay on the trail and don't venture towards the thermal area as the ground is unstable and potentially dangerous.  Eventually, the trail veers off to the left.  Continuing straight on the old road leads to Fountain Flats and Ojo Caliente, yet another of Yellowstone's many hot springs.  Once on the single track trail, you'll hike through an area that was burned and you have a chance to see the lodgepole pines growing back.   Fairy Falls is about 197 tall as Fairy Creek makes a near vertical drop over the cliff wall.  In spring, wildflowers can be seen in the area, though getting a clean photo can be tough with all the burned trees, many of which have been blown over by the wind.  This is one of many hazards of hiking in Yellowstone.  Lodgepole pines have very shallow root systems, so strong winds can blow them over easily.  Burned trees snap even easier in the wind, so if a storm comes in with high winds, it's best to get off the trail.

It's difficult to find solitude on a hike to Fairy Falls.  But the sight of this beautiful waterfall makes up for it.  At a round trip of only about five miles, it's easy enough for most healthy people.  There's also little elevation change, making this a relatively easy hike.


Yellowstone's Backcountry- Union Falls Trail

August 25, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Yellowstone National Park has over 900 miles of hiking trails yet most park visitors only visit the roadside attractions, never stepping foot into the park's vast backcountry.  This article is the first in the series and features the Union Falls Trail.  There's a good reason many don't walk Yellowstone's trails, the road system was designed to take visitors directly to the park's most famous features, including Old Faithful and Lower Falls.  In fact, in modern times, the roads have been re-routed, moving them a little further away from roadside attractions.  The paved trail from the Old Faithful Inn to Morning Glory Pool was once the main park road.  If you've ever walked this path, imagine the impact today if this remained the main park road!  Many trails are long and/or difficult to access.  The trail to Union Falls is both.  To visit Union Falls, one must first drive down a dirt road that can be rough in places, depending when the last time any maintenance was done to it.  Even so, most cars, if driven carefully, can handle it.

Once at the trailhead, the adventure begins with a 16 mile round trip hike.  One steep descent going to the falls becomes a steep climb on the way out, which can be tough after a long day of hiking.  A ford of the Falls River also must be negotiated.  Because of this, the hike is best done in August when the river flows much lower and slower.  Earlier in the season, this crossing can be dangerous.  Of course, in August the huckleberries ripen, so the potential of bears in the area increases.  But one should always carry bear spray when hiking in Yellowstone and always be alert for their presence.

Union Falls is considered one of the highest waterfall in Yellowstone, at 265 feet.  Of course, there are much taller seasonal waterfalls or waterfalls on smaller streams, but regardless, the sight of Union Falls is very impressive.  At the falls, two creeks merge together, hence the name.  Mountain Ash Creek is the larger of the two but a second, unnamed creek flows in on the left in the image above, and the two creeks join together as they flow over Union Falls.  While you may have the hike to yourself most of the day, once reaching the falls, there may be other hikers around since it's easy to want to linger here and enjoy this amazing place.  In any event, if choosing to try this trek, be prepared.  Proper gear, plenty of snacks and water, rain gear, and bear spray are all musts.  If hiking 16 miles over one day seems too much, then it's probably best to skip this one and choose a shorter hike to one of Yellowstone's other backcountry waterfalls.  But if you're up to it, Union Falls is a sight to behold and one you won't forget!