Hiking the Mallard Lake Trail
Mallard Creek & Mallard Lake Trails, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #3, Mallard Lake & Mallard Creek Trails
Mallard Creek Trailhead OK9
Southwest Section - Moderate Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Southwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate - Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Distance: 7.1 mi/11.4 km round-trip
Elevation Gain: 945 ft.

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 3 sites - OB2, OB3 & OB4
Click here to view a list of 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 - Mallard Creek (OK9)
From West Yellowstone:
From the center of town enter Yellowstone and drive 14 miles to Madison Junction. Turn right and continue toward Old Faithful. The Mallard Creek Trailhead is located on the left after Midway Geyser Basin and the Fairy Falls Trail.
Get Directions from West Yellowstone

Backcountry permits can be obtained at the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center on the corner of Yellowstone Ave. and S. Canyon St./route 191 in West Yellowstone (307) 344-2876, or at the Old Faithful Backcountry Office. For information call the Central Backcountry Office: (307) 344-2160

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.





Mallard Creek Trailhead Location
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Mallard Lake Overview Map
Mallard Lake Trail Stats


Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Total Mileage: 7.1 mi /11.4 km as a point-2-point
Type of Hike: Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Wow Factor: A very peaceful backcountry lake
Elevation Gain/Loss: 945 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Old Faithful
4.0 miles north of Old Faithful.

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.506956
Longitude: -110.833458

Mallard Lake Coordinates
Latitude: 44.477707
Longitude: -110.775833

Approx. Elevations
Start Elevation = 7,323 ft.
Maximum Elevation = 8,268 ft.
Elevation Gain/Loss = 945 ft.
FREE Trip Planner
Yellowstone Backcountry Info


Mallard Lake Photo Gallery
Mallard Lake Trail Description

Mallard Creek & Mallard Lake Trail Descriptions (Trailhead OK9) - Moderate to Heavy Traffic

Mallard Lake is an easy escape located near Old Faithful and it makes for a great day hike or overnight trip for the whole family. Relax by the lakeshore and watch the waterfowl dive for food along the shores of this peaceful little lake.

NOTE: This hike was completed as a point-2-point starting at the Mallard Creek Trailhead (OK9) with an overnight stay at Mallard Lake. On day two we followed the Mallard Lake Trail to the Old Faithful area, and the Mallard Lake Trailhead OK3. Mileages were calculated over the entire 2 days.

From the parking lot near Midway Geyser Basin the trail immediately enters dense new growth forest which is prevalent throughout much of the hike. As you begin this hike keep an eye out for osprey that have made this area their home. We were fortunate enough to see a handful of these birds circling overhead as we left the trailhead, and this area provides them with an ideal location for both breeding and hunting. Their large nesting sites were easy to spot in the numerous dead snags that are plentiful along this section of the trail. If you're lucky enough you may spot an osprey diving for unsuspecting fish in the shallow waters of the Firehole River located nearby. They are one of the few raptors that actually dive for fish.

Much of the elevation for this hike is gained in a series of short climbs spread out over the entire length of the Mallard Creek Trail. As you continue climbing make sure you look over your shoulder every so often and you'll be rewarded with views of the thermal features near Midway Geyser Basin and the summit of Mount Holmes to the northwest. Just days before we started this hike a spring storm rolled through and covered the entire Gallatin Range in fresh snow—and, this was in early June.

At 3.7 miles you'll get your first look at Mallard Lake from a high vantage point to the west. This small lake is surrounded by a mix of burned and unburned forest with the campsites tucked in among the heavily wooded, eastern edge of the lake. From this overlook the trail begins descending to the shores of the lake. All three campsites at Mallard Lake, OB2, OB3 (★★★) and OB4 (★★), are located very near to the shoreline and are nicely shaded by the pine trees that circle the lake. Sites OB2 and OB3 are very similar, with their cooking areas located on small points next to the waters edge and the tent areas set a little farther back in the woods. Campsite OB4 (★★) is situated on the western side of the lake and seemed a bit cramped below a steep hillside that descends to meet the lake.

Day 2: On day 2 we packed up and headed southwest down the Mallard Lake Trail toward Old Faithful for the short 3.0 mile hike to the Mallard Lake Trailhead. You can start this hike from either trailhead with this trail being the easiest and shortest route to the lake.

After leaving the lake the first 0.75 miles of the Mallard Lake Trail follow a beautifully wooded section before reaching a large rockslide at 5.1 miles. The terrain changes significantly after you pass this prominent boulder field with the mature forest replaced by smaller new growth trees mixed with taller dead snags that are so common throughout much of the park. Near the 6.0 mile mark you can see the Old Faithful Lodge peeking over the tops of these new smaller trees. At 6.5 miles the trail enters a wooded section where it will remain until it crosses the Firehole River just before reaching the Mallard Lake Trailhead.

Note: The Mallard Lake Trailhead is located behind employee housing near the Old Faithful parking lot and can be difficult to find. See location below.

Mallard Lake Trailhead





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.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.








Nearby Hiking Trails
Lone Star (Trailhead OK1) - A very popular hike to Lone Star Geyser (open to mountain biking and cross country skiing for the first 2.7 miles).
Howard Eaton (Trailhead OK2) - Provides access to Shoshone Lake and the Bechler River Trail.
Biscuit Basin (Trailhead OK4) - Provides access to Summit Lake and the Fairy Creek Trail.
Fairy Falls (Trailhead OK5) - A popular hike to Fairy Falls via Fountain Flat Drive (mountain biking is allowed on Fountain Freight Road).
Sentinel Meadows (Trailhead OK6) - A beautiful loop through Sentinel Meadows and the Lower Geyser Basin area.
Mary Mountain (Trailhead OK7) - A long day hike along the Nez Perce Trail to Mary Lake (trail opens June 15th).



Nearby Campgrounds
Madison Campground - Madison Campground is located approximately 12 miles north of the Mallard Creek Trailhead and has 278 sites with a section for 'tents only'. Campsites are $24.25 + per night. Electrical hookups are available. Campground has flush toilets. Reservations are accepted. Click here to make online reservations or call: 1-866-439-7375. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm. An ice and vending machine, recycling and a dump station are located at this campground - Get Directions from the Mallard Creek Trailhead to the Madison Campground.

Grant Village - Grant Village is located approximately 23 miles southeast of the Mallard Creek Trailhead and has 430 sites and full amenities. Campsites are $29.00 + per night. Includes 2 showers per night. Electrical hookups are available. Campground has flush toilets. Reservations are accepted. Click here to make online reservations or call: 1-866-439-7375. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm. Ice, vending machines, a gas station, lodging, restaurants, pay showers, laundry and a dump station are located at this campground - Get Directions from the Mallard Creek Trailhead to Grant Village.



Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
All overnight backcountry permits for the northwest section of Yellowstone National Park can be obtained at the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center on the corner of Yellowstone Ave. and S. Canyon St./route 191 in West Yellowstone (307) 344-2876, or at the Old Faithful Backcountry Office. Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Post Hike Meals

Don't forget to stop in at one of the following restaurants if you're staying in West Yellowstone.
Wolf Pack Brewing Co located at 139 North Canyon Street in West Yellowstone - Directions
Wild West Pizzeria at 14 Madison Avenue in West Yellowstone - Directions


Maps for Hiking Mallard Lake
Beartooth Publishing Outdoor Recreational Maps
These maps from Beartooth Publishing will cover all of Yellowstone National Park as well as Bozeman/Big Sky/Gallatin Range/Madison Range and West Yellowstone.
For more information regarding these maps click here.






Directions to Mallard Creek Trailhead
Click the Map to Launch Directions
From West Yellowstone to the
Mallard Creek Trailhead.



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