The Lewis River Channel Trail is a moderate 6.4 mile (one way) hike along Lewis Lake and up the headwaters of the Lewis River in Yellowstone National Park. The trail can either be hiked as an out and back, or connected with the nearby Dogshead Trail for a slightly shorter loop.
Lewis River Channel Trail Description
The trail begins on the west side of the parking lot, a bit more discrete than its counterpart, the Dogshead Trail. Upon entering the woods, you’ll pass through a small meadow and then you’ll cross Dogshead Creek. Along the way you’ll notice that the old lodgepole pine forest is also mixed with younger trees, still growing after the 1988 fires that burned roughly one-third of the park.
As you continue past the creek crossing, you’ll notice Mount Sheridan in the distance. Through here, you’ll meander along the wetlands as the creek feeds into Lewis Lake. Lewis Lake is actually the second-largest lake in Yellowstone National Park, behind only Yellowstone Lake. Along this stretch, both the lake and the Teton Mountains come into view through the trees.
The Lewis River Channel Trail continues just inside of treeline along the lake’s shores. You’ll likely notice the road noise as well coming from the main road. The trail trends more westward through here as it wanders along the forested shore of Lewis Lake. On occasion, it’ll even pop out at a small beach of volcanic rocks, allowing you to properly take in the view.
You’ll head back into the forest and away from the lake, still continuing westward. Here the road noise begins to fade more, and likely won’t return until you’re hiking out. You’ll wind through the calming forest some more, and then emerge at a remote corner of the lake. This is the point where the Lewis River Channel feeds into Lewis Lake. This tranquil setting makes for an ideal place to stop and have a snack, if desired. Likewise, if you’re not interested in covering the full trail, this makes for a great spot to stop and turn around.
Once you’ve enjoyed the view, you’ll follow the trail back into the forest. While paralleling the river channel, you’ll cross a pair of small drainages feeding into the water, where you’ll then begin to make a quick ascent up a small hill. Looking around, you’ll notice the terrain in general gets a bit hillier overall. Continue along the Lewis River Channel where beautiful views of the calm water reach northward.
As you weave around above the channel, you’ll begin to see the small gorge narrow. Shortly after, the Lewis River Channel turns into the Lewis River, an actual flowing river through the forest. The trail will head upriver for a distance, providing beautiful and relaxing vistas along the way.
Soon the trail will veer away from the river and head into the forest. You’ll cross a small stream as you also wind past wetlands. Just a bit farther beyond that is a junction, and the terminus of the Lewis River Channel Trail at Shoshone Lake. If you’d like to enjoy a bit of the scenery, head left where the South Shore Shoshone Lake Trail heads along the shore for a bit to provide some gorgeous views of the backcountry. To head back to the trailhead, either head out the same way you came in, or connect with the Dogshead Trail 0.2 miles to the north.
From Grant Village, drive south along the South Entrance Road for 5.2 miles. Look for the trailhead on your right before reaching Lewis Lake.
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