Hiking the Grizzly Lake Trail, Yellowstone
Grizzly Lake, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #18, Grizzly Lake Trail
Grizzly Lake Trailhead 1K8
Northwest Section - Moderate Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

Campsites 1C1, 1C2, 1C4, 1C5 will be closed in 2018 due to road construction. Visitors will not be allowed to park at either the Grizzly Lake or Mt. Holmes trailheads.

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Location: Northwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Moderate - Out-and-back to campsite 1C2
Distance: 7.2 mi/11.5 km round-trip to campsite 1C2
Elevation Gain: 720 ft.

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 4 sites - 1C1, 1C2, 1C4 & 1C5
Click here to view a list of the backcountry campsites for this area.

Full Description: Read the full description or view photos of this hike.
Topo Maps: Beartooth Publishing - Yellowstone National Park

Finding the Trailhead - Grizzly Lake (1K8)
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
From Mammoth Hot Springs drive south on the Grand Loop Road/ US-89 approximately 16 miles towards Norris Junction. The trailhead is on the right just past the Solfatara Trailhead. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

NOTE - Backcountry camping permits for this area can be obtained at the Albright Visitor Center (at Mammoth Hot Springs). Open daily, year-round. Hours vary depending on the time of year - (307) 344-2263.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Grizzly Lake Trailhead Location

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Grizzly Lake Overview Map
Grizzly Lake Topo Map
Grizzly Lake Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - well marked
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Mileage: 7.2 mi /11.5 km round-trip to site 1C2
Type of Hike: Out-and-back or overnighter
Wow Factor: Gateway to Mount Holmes
Elevation Gain: 720 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Mammoth Hot Springs
16 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.781028
Longitude: -110.740938

Grizzly Lake Coordinates
Latitude: 44.808269
Longitude: -110.774245

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 7,420 ft.
Lake Elevation = 7,500 ft.
Elevation Gain = 720 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Grizzly Lake Photo Gallery
Grizzly Lake Trail Description

Grizzly Lake Trail Description - (Trailhead 1K8) Moderate Traffic

The Park's second superintendent Philetus W. Norris (1877-1882) was responsible for the names of at least sixty features within Yellowstone and Grizzly Lake has endured since his tenure 137 years ago.

The trail begins at the Grizzly Lake pull-out along the Grand Loop Road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction. The small parking lot can accommodate three to four vehicles so please park accordingly.

The trail parallels the road and crosses Obsidian Creek on a small footbridge before entering a broad valley that is filled with tall grasses and a variety of wildflowers. Through here you'll cross a series of wooden footbridges, the last one spans a rocky and dry streambed that is ideal habitat for marmots which often be seen and heard as they dart among the rocks. After about 0.5 miles you'll begin to ascend a steep hill covered in dead trees that were burned in the massive forest fires of 1988. The ascent is moderate and then the trail drops back into another flat and open section as it passes through a moderately forested area that is dotted with numerous charred trees. At 1.65 miles from the trailhead you get the first glimpses of Grizzly Lake far below. At this point the trail begins descending to the northern end of this long and slender lake.

At the water’s edge the signs for backcountry campsites 1C1 and 1C2 are clearly visible. The trail fords Straight Creek which feeds the lake from the north. It's best to cross the outlet by walking over one of several logs laid across the riverbed. Once on the other side, campsite 1C1 is an easy 0.6 miles away on flat, well-marked terrain.

There are two campsites located along the Grizzly Lake Trail. Site 1C1 is for hikers and 1C2 is reserved for stock parties (horses). Campsite 1C1 is the first site you'll encounter as you head north from Grizzly Lake. Site 1C1 has a fire pit and a designated area to hang your food. There is a large valley below the campsite but it's often too wet and boggy for tents. Walking through the valley down toward the river there are a number of drier spots for pitching a tent. Straight Creek is ideal for collecting and filtering water. Site 1C2 is about another 0.8 miles north along flat terrain. This is a stock site which is nestled beside the creek in this narrow valley.

Description to sites 1C4 and 1C5
After passing site 1C2 another you'll reach the junction for Mount Holmes/Winter Creek Trail in another 0.4 miles. Heading west (left) takes you toward Trilobite Lake and Mount Holmes. Heading east takes you back to the Grand Loop Road and the Mount Holmes Trailhead (1K6). As you continue hiking toward Trilobite Lake and Mount Holmes the trail ascends another moderate hill and then drops into another valley along Winter Creek. After 3.1 miles you'll arrive at campsite 1C4, another stock campsite at the edge of large meadow. From site 1C4 it's a very short walk (0.1 miles) to the junction for Mount Holmes and Trilobite Lake. There is a small patrol cabin at this trail juncture. Just south of the cabin, across the meadow is site 1C5, another stock campsite. This is a great place to stay if you plan to hike to Trilobite Lake or Mount Holmes.

NOTE: Although three out of the four campsites in the area are designated for stock, hikers can use these sites if they are not reserved by the afternoon.

Click here to download your FREE Yellowstone Backcountry Trip Planner - Contains backcountry campsite information, backcountry permit information, park service phone numbers, bear management information and hiking/backpacking checklists.

WARNING: YOU MUST BE WELL PREPARED and carry the necessary equipment to make your hike a safe one. You are responsible for your own well-being while trekking in these remote wilderness locations. Help or rescue can be hours or even days away.

Nearby Hiking Trails
Sepulcher Mountain (Trailhead 1K3) - A nice out and back to the top of peak that gives you a stunning view of Electric Peak.
Fawn Pass - East Side (Trailhead 1K3) - Plenty of mountain scenery with access to four beautiful backcountry campsites. Very popular.
The Hoodoos (Trailhead 1K3) - A nice hike through interesting rock formations located high above Mammoth Hot Springs.
Electric Peak (Trailhead 1K3) - Climbs to the highest peak in the Gallatin Range at 10,969 ft.
Bunsen Peak (Trailhead 1K4) - A very popular summit with incredible views of the Gallatin Range and the Swan Lake Flat area.
Osprey Falls (Trailhead 1K4) - Descends into Sheepeater Canyon to the base of a 150' waterfall.
Indian Creek (Trailhead 1K5) - Heads west over scenic Bighorn Pass.
Mount Holmes (Trailhead 1K6) - A long day hike to the bare summit of a mountain that sits at the very southern end of the Gallatin Range.

Nearby Campgrounds
Mammoth Campground - Open Year-round - Mammoth Campground is located approximately 17 miles north of the Grizzly Lake Trailhead and has 85 that are mostly pull-through. Campground has flush-toilets. Campsites are $20.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm. A gas station, general store, restaurants, a hotel and visitor center are located nearby at Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions from the Grizzly Lake Trailhead to the Mammoth Campground.

Indian Creek Campground - Indian Creek Campground is located approximately 7.6 miles north of the Grizzly Lake Trailhead and has 75 primitive sites (no RV hook ups). Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted - Get Directions from the Grizzly Lake Trailhead to the Indian Creek Campground.

Norris Campground - Norris Campground is located approximately 4.1 miles south of the Grizzly Lake Trailhead and has 100 sites. Campsites are $20.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm - Get Directions from the Grizzly Lake Trailhead to the Norris Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits for this area can be obtained at the Albright Visitor Center (at Mammoth Hot Springs). Open daily, year-round. Hours vary depending on the time of year - (307) 344-2263. Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Post Hike Meals
Visit the following restaurants in Mammoth or Gardiner after a day of backcountry hiking.

The Corral Drive-In - Located in Gardiner (Awesome burgers) - Get Directions
K Bar & Cafe - Pizza and beer. 202 Main Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Outlaws Pizza - You guessed it...Pizza. Located on Scott Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Terrace Grill - Fast food. Located in Mammoth (This will do in a pinch. Frankly, anything tastes good after a long day of hiking).

Maps for Hiking Grizzly Lake
Beartooth Publishing Outdoor Recreational Maps
The following map from Beartooth Publishing covers all of the hiking trails located in Yellowstone National Park. For more information about these maps click here.

Directions to the Grizzly Lake Trailhead

Click the Map to Launch Directions
From Mammoth to the Grizzly Lake Trailhead.


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