Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail

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.
0.5-1h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
2.7 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.
61 m
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Directions to Trailhead

The Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail is a lovely hike in the heart of Yellowstone National Park. This trail is relatively easy and family-friendly. With lots to explore along the way, the Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail is a great place to see forest flora and fauna and catch some incredible views of Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone Lake itself is an incredible sight to behold. This lake is the largest freshwater lake in the park and the largest high elevation lake in North America.

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Route Description for Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail

The Yellowstone Lake Overlook trail is a fantastic, popular hike in Yellowstone National Park. The lush forest and vegetation along this trail make it a great spot to see wildlife, including elk and bison. The area is a common spot to see bears as well. Before heading out, make sure everyone is familiar with bear safety in your hiking party. At least one member of your hiking party should carry a canister of bear spray and know how to use it. In the case of any wildlife encounter, do not feed the animals and admire them from a safe distance.

With flora and fauna abound, the Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail is a fantastic hike for the whole family. Yellowstone Lake itself is an impressive sight. This body of water spans over 132 square miles and is home to the largest population of cutthroat trout in North America. This freshwater lake is an essential habitat for various critters and plant life in Yellowstone National Park. The largest lake in the park and the largest high altitude lake in North America, Yellowstone Lake, is truly something to behold.

To hike the Yellowstone Lake overlook trail, begin at the Overlook Trailhead and follow the path on your right to hike the loop counterclockwise. Follow the trail up the incline to the overlook. At the top, take a moment to soak in the incredible views of Yellowstone Lake and really appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. When ready to head back, simply follow the trail as it loops back to the Overlook Trailhead, where you began.

If you are looking for more to explore, check out the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail nearby.

Trail Highlights

Yellowstone Lake

Spanning over 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park. This lake is home to river otters and beavers and is an essential habitat for a wide variety of avian and amphibian life. Yellowstone Lake boasts the largest population of wild cutthroat trout in North America in terms of fish life. Unfortunately, the Cutthroat Trout population is threatened by the proliferation of invasive Lake Trout. Fishing is permitted in Yellowstone Lake during the summer season, though all cutthroat trout must be released, and any lake trout caught by anglers must be killed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you swim in Yellowstone Lake?

Swimming in Yellowstone Lake is not recommended or encouraged as the water is dangerously cold.

Does Yellowstone Lake freeze over?

Yes, every year Yellowstone freezes over completely from late December/early January to late May/early June. The thickness of the ice can range from just a few inches to over two feet.

Insider Hints for Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail

  • Bring a camera! The views from the top of this trail are stunning
  • Be prepared for a busy parking lot, this hike shares a parking area with the popular West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail

Getting to the Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail Trailhead

This hike begins at the Overlook Trailhead on the west side of South Entrance Road, approximately 2.7 km north of Grant Village in Yellowstone National Park.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    May to October

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Lollipop

Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail Elevation Graph

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