Thermal areas are dangerous and this one is no exception. If you are confused on the trail placement, do not despair as you have two options. You can follow the tree line south, and then cross west through an area of downed trees that are north of the mud pots. OutdoorPlaces.Com does not recommend this route however. Thermal areas are active and these down trees indicate moving thermal activity. To get a good idea on how quickly a thermal area can form, visit Mud Volcano to see Yellowstone's newest thermal feature, in the middle of the parking lot!
You are better off heading north of the mud pots through the barren area. If you look careful you should be able to find a trail of foot prints in the loose soil heading west. Stay close to the tree line and if you are hiking in a group it is better to spread out a little but walk single file to cause minimal impact to the area. As you pass the mud pots look to the southwest and you should see the next trail marker (if you look at the picture of the mud pots above you can see the trail going over a rise in the upper right corner).
The trail will continue through the thermal area and you will pass within a few feet of some seething steam vents. The ground is actually warm here as you pass through. You will never get closer to thermal features in Yellowstone without breaking park rules!
The trail will climb up a hill with a sharp break on it, as you approach the top, you will hear a rhythmic, deep growling -- don't worry, it is not a bear. At the top of the hill is a very noisy steam vent. The trail will curve south and you will come to the emerald green waters of Clear Lake. Clear Lake gets it's color from the minerals seeping up from the ground. The water is exceptional clear, like most thermal areas, but is not potable. Do not put your hands in the water.
West back to Uncle Tom's Trailhead...