GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

Short Hikes to See Lakes

Trout Lake

Trout Lake

Yellowstone offers you hundreds of miles of trails. For some of us lazier folks who don’t want to spend weeks in the backcountry, a great goal is to visit a few of the beautiful lakes that are only a pleasant walk away from a road.

A short but rather steep hike on a trail lavishly lined with wildflowers can bring you to Trout Lake. Its trailhead is about eleven miles from the Northeast Entrance. Trout Lake has always been reputed to be full of large but hard to catch trout. In fact, in the early twentieth century it was a source of fish eggs, which were shipped to hatcheries nationwide. If you’re there in June or early July, you might get to see the trout spawning in the inlet (to the right as you approach the lake from the trail).

Harlequin Lake is at the end of another short but not so steep trail near Madison Junction. Beaver have built a lodge at one end, and lily pads abound on the lake’s quiet surface. The trail passes through burned lodgepole pines, but the new growth since the 1988 fires forms a lush green understory.

Harlequin Lake

Harlequin Lake

Crackling Lake is easy to find when you visit the western part of Porcelain Basin in Norris Geyser Basin. It’s not really a lake at all but rather a very large hot spring. In the picture (below left) you can get an idea of the bubbles of carbon dioxide popping on top of the hot water. Norris Geyser Basin can surprise you with more different types of features than anywhere else in Yellowstone.

Of course, the largest and perhaps most beautiful lake in the park is Yellowstone Lake. Some twenty-nine miles of road run along its shores. Near Fishing Bridge is Storm Point (below right), reached in about a mile by a nature trail. You might see yellow-bellied marmots and water birds and places where bison like to wallow in the sand.

If you really like lakes, here are several others well worth the short hikes required to reach them. Near Canyon Junction are Clear Lake, Cascade Lake, and Ice Lake. Also check out Lost Lake near Tower Junction and Riddle Lake on the South Entrance Road.

CREDITS: All photos on this page are by Bruno Giletti.

IN THE GUIDEBOOK: Look at the Recommended Short Walks chart on pages 366–68 of the fifth edition to find more lakes not described on this website.

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