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Grizzly Lake

Evergreen trees growing along the shores of Grizzly Lake. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Grizzly Lake is a moderate 2.4 mile (one way) hike to a gorgeous backcountry lake in the southern Gallatin Mountains in Yellowstone National Park. Along the way you’re treated to wide views looking both east and west.

Grizzly Lake Trail Description

From the trailhead, begin down the trail where you’ll parallel the road for a short distance, situated a few meters below. As you enter into a small wetlands, you’ll walk over some large rocks before crossing a small stream. Passing through a small grove of trees, you’ll then cross another small creek. Beyond here you enter into the large lush meadow visible from the trailhead.

You’ll pass through the meadow, crossing one more creek along the way in the middle. At the other end you’ll begin the steep climb up the hill. A series of switchbacks guide you up the exposed hillside. The steep climb culminates in a gorgeous view above the meadow, also overlooking the road far below.

The Grand Loop Road winding past a large meadow below the Grizzly Lake Trail. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Beyond the overlook you’ll straddle the small ridgeline for a brief stretch. On the other side of the trees you’ll then begin ascending up a small drainage. Through a young forest you’ll ascend up the side of the drainage, occasionally making a quick descent before ascending once again.

At the top of the drainage you’ll reach a large meadow. Continue across where you’ll ascend again into another part of the forest. Be sure to look back for a beautiful view across the meadow, distant peaks rising in the distance.

Back into the forest, you’ll parallel a large meadow. Higher up, you’ll leave the large meadow and continue through the forest with an occasional smaller meadow breaking up the woods. The easy section of trail proceeds up and over small rises in the terrain. At last you’ll reach the crest of the large hill, the trail then beginning to gradually drop in elevation. In just a short distance, however, the scenery changes quite dramatically.

Trilobite Point and Peaks Above Grizzly Lake
Trilobite Point and other southern Gallatin Mountain peaks rising high above Grizzly Lake. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

As you emerge from the woods, a jaw-dropping view of Trilobite Point, Mount Holmes, and Dome Mountain appear crowning the horizon. Hundreds of feet below lies the serene and remote Grizzly Lake. At this point, the trail makes a steep descent down numerous switchbacks. Through the young forest and many meadows,the trail drops quickly. Along the way, the view of the peaks diminishes, while Grizzly Lake expands farther into the east.

At the bottom of the hill, you’ll parallel the lake for a short distance before reaching the lake’s outlet. You can either opt to cross via the log jam, or find a cozy spot on the near side to enjoy the views. When you’re ready, head out the same way you came in.

Getting There

From the Norris Geyser Basin, head north from the intersection. Continue for 6.3 miles and look for the Grizzly Lake Trailhead on the left.

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Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com