My wife and I made the short hike to Trout Lake based on the recommendation of the driver on our Yellow Bus tour. We had toured the Lamar Valley on the Wake up to Wildlife Tour earlier in the morning, and the driver pointed out the trailhead as we passed by, stating that this was a nice short hike and a good place to fish. Following the Yellow Bus tour, we drove part of the Beartooth Highway, so on the way back into Yellowstone, we decided that a stretch of the legs would be a good thing as we had been riding around so much.
The trailhead is right along the main road, on the north side, a mile or so west of the road to Pebble Creek Campground. The parking lot for Trout Lake is not large, but there was plenty of room for us when we arrived just before 4:00 on an early September afternoon.
The trail to the lake is about 0.2 miles and the loop around the lake is about a half mile, so about a 1 mile total. The hike to the lake is up hill all the way and fairly steep, but the trail is in good shape. The loop around the lake is generally level, but narrow in a couple of spots along the east bank. In places the trail is very close to the lake, so the trail was a little muddy in those areas. I would say that the trail gets a decent amount of use, as there were a half dozen or so fishermen around the lake angling for cutthroat trout and a couple other folks just walking and enjoying the scenery.
There are nice views along the trail to/from the lake, and the walk around the lake is also very nice. We saw several ducks on the lake, and one bison grazing above the lake. As we continued on around the lake, the bison ambled down to the water for a drink.
We took our time and enjoyed the walk around the lake, taking photos and watching the bison meander about. I guess we spent a little over an hour from the time we reached the trailhead to the time we returned to the car. This is not a spectacular hike and certainly not a “must do”, but it is a good workout and worth the investment of an hour or so. Looked like a good place to fish (we did see one angler catch a cutthroat trout).
Tips: Remember to bring your bear spray; you never can tell when one of those big critters will show up. We had ours, and fortunately did not need it. What we did not have (since we had been driving all day) were our trekking poles; those would have been nice for the steep incline. You will also want to have some water; even though this is a short trail, much of the loop around the lake is exposed.
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