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Wolf Lake

Gibbon River Flowing Out of Wolf Lake
The Gibbon River flowing out of Wolf Lake below foggy skies. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The Wolf Lake Trail is a moderate 4 mile (one way) hike to a serene glacial lake on the Solfatara Plateau in Yellowstone National Park. With two backcountry campsites at the lake, it makes for a great day-hike or overnight.

Wolf Lake Trail Description

From the trailhead, you’ll need to cross the road and head back slightly to the east to catch the trail on the opposite side as the parking area. From there, you’ll quickly begin heading up into a forest, broken up by a meadow early on. Along the way you’ll parallel the Gibbon River as it descends from the glacial lakes above.

A large forest surrounding Little Gibbon Falls along the Gibbon River below the Wolf Lake Trail. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Beyond the meadow, you’ll soon reach an overlook with Little Gibbon Falls rushing below. Reminiscent of its larger counterpart along the Grand Loop Road, the 25 foot waterfall is a gorgeous site below the trail. A steep cliff the trail navigates along provides an excellent vantage point.

After admiring the falls, you’ll descend down to a small creek before climbing back up. You’ll make an occasional brief climb up and then descend to the junction with the Ice Lake Trail. From here it’s easy hiking that includes a small stream crossing and an occasional climb still.

A quick descent down to the Gibbon River awaits. You’ll then parallel the river for a short distance before needing to cross. To successfully cross, you’ll either need to take advantage of downed logs across the stream, or simply ford the river.

A lush and vibrant forest surrounding the Gibbon River on a rainy day. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Beyond the river, you’ll head up a hill, then back down. It’s here that you’ll catch your first glimpses of Wolf Lake through the trees. As you emerge from the forest into the flats, you’ll reach the first of two backcountry campsites. For many, this will mark the end of the trail. Just beyond the campsite is a wide section of the Gibbon River, and the only way across is to ford.

While not challenging, the ford will deter most from continuing. If you do choose to continue, you’ll continue about 0.2 miles before making another much smaller ford to the next campsite. At this point, your only option is to either turn back or continue to Grebe Lake.

Back at the initial campsite, a gorgeous view of the Gibbon River flowing out of Wolf Lake makes for a wonderful spot to stop for a day-hike. The scenery is peaceful and modestly sublime. When ready, head out the same way you came in, or consider throwing in Ice Lake as well!

The Wolf Lake Trail crossing the Gibbon River as it flows out of Wolf Lake. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Getting There

From Canyon Village, head west on Norris Canyon Road for 7.75 miles. Look for the trailhead on your left.

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Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com