Yellow Belly Lake Hike

Difficulty
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Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
1.5-2h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
6.1 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
63 m
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Directions to Trailhead

Yellow Belly Lake is an idyllic, moraine-bound pool in the foothills of the Sawtooth Mountains beckoning your exploration. Accessible via the lodgepole-bound backcountry trail, the hidden oasis offers breathtaking views of the rugged Rockies commanding the skies from the forested shoreline. The next time you find yourself in the area, the family-friendly Yellow Belly Lake Hike is worth a detour into the wilderness.

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Route Description for Yellow Belly Lake Hike

This short, scenic adventure in the Sawtooth National Forest is calling your name. The Yellow Belly Lake Trails is an easy-going excursion that the entire family can enjoy—including your pup. Unlike many nearby lakes, this scenic alpine pool is only accessible via backcountry trail. Hence, the area is often relatively quiet—though the odd horseback rider or biker might be spotted. As you wander, be mindful of passers-by and be wary of your footing on the rock and root obstructed path. After rainfall, the route can become unstable with mud, so don't wear your new white runners and consider footwear with extra traction. Note: the road to the trailhead is rough and rugged and is subject to seasonal closure in the winter months.

Get outside into the fresh air and reconnect with nature on your walk to the forested shoreline of Yellow Belly Lake. While the whole family can enjoy this route, it is important to note that the initial stage of the hike demands a small climb, but it's easily manageable by most! Following along the Yellow Belly Lake outlet, which boasts a charming cascade and exploring mixed pine woodlands before opening to the lake, this trail is chock full of mesmerizing scenery. One of the largest lakes in the wilderness, the crystalline pool is ideal for swimming, fishing, and stand-up paddleboarding, among other recreation activities—just don't forget your towel!

Embark on your adventure along the Yellow Belly Lake Hike from the trailhead off Forest Road 365. Setting out from here, the Yellow Bellow Lake Trail travels northwestward, gradually climbing further into the wilderness. This segment of your hike follows the curves of the streamlet, offering a great soundtrack of gurgling water to your adventure. After some climbing, you will pass a charming cascade along the outlet that tumbles over a rugged rock wall. Admire the hypnotic scene, then continue your stroll. Subtly curving more west, the trail will travel past a small pond—beyond this point, the terrain will plateau.

Now wandering away from the creek, you will hike through a corridor of looming pines and mixed undergrowth to the shoreline of Yellow Belly Lake. While the views are likely interrupted by trees, you can make your way through the brush to enjoy a majestic view of the crystalline lake mirroring the looming Sawtooth ridges. Continue along the shoreline, and you will ultimately reach your adventure's end at the overlook of the glacial pool on the southern shore. Revel in the beauty of the crystal clear forest bound, mountain flanked lake. Take a dip in the refreshing waters, admire the breathtaking scenery, then head back to the trailhead the way you came.

Want to check out another amazing adventure in the Sawtooth National Forest? Check out our list of the 20 greatest hiking routes in the Sawtooth Mountains.

Trail Highlights

Yellow Belly Lake

Yellow Belly Lake is a moraine-bound alpine lake in Sawtooth Valley. Located at an elevation of 2,157 m, the glacial pool sits between the ridges anchored by Imogene Peak and Parks Peak and is one of the largest lakes in the Sawtooth National Forest. Ideal for swimming, fishing, paddle boarding, and kayaking, this scenic lake is an ideal summer recreation destination.

Insider Hints for Yellow Belly Lake Hike

  • Explore in the mornings or evenings for a more secluded experience
  • This trail is shared with horses, so be mindful of your footing—they leave evidence along the path
  • The water is inviting—bring a swimsuit and towel!
  • Vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended to reach the trailhead
  • Bug repellent isn’t a bad idea to have in the knapsack!
  • Bring your camera—the scenery is quite photogenic

Getting to the Yellow Belly Lake Hike Trailhead

The Yellow Belly Lake Trailhead is located off Forest Road 365.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Dispersed Camping

  • When to do

    May-October

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Yellow Belly Lake Hike Elevation Graph

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