Yellowstone Guided Backpacking, Heart Lake
Heart Lake Guided Backpacking Tours, Yellowstone
Heart Lake Itinerary
Day 1 - Moderate - 8.5 mi/13.6 km
We'll meet at the Heart Lake Trailhead located in the south central region of Yellowstone just north of Lewis Lake. After a short orientation we'll hike through lodgepole forests to a magnificent spot overlooking the lake at 4.5 miles. From this vantage point we'll begin descending along Witch Creek, past bubbling hot springs and open meadows that offer views of Factory Hill, Mount Sheridan and the Heart Lake Geyser Basin. As we approach the lake we'll pass one of the many patrol cabins spread across the vast Yellowstone wilderness. The Heart Lake Patrol Cabin was built in 1924 and is located a short distance from the shores of the lake. We'll head west to our first campsite (8H4, 8H3 or 8H2) along the northwestern edge of Heart Lake. We'll set up camp in the shadows of Mount Sheridan and the Red Mountains as the sun sets behind this towering 10,000 foot peak. If time and energy allow we'll visit the thermals area near campsite 8H6 before returning to camp for the evening.

Day 2 - Difficult - 7 mi/11 km
After a hearty breakfast we'll attempt to summit Mount Sheridan (10,305 ft.) before the onset of any afternoon thunderstorms. This is a strenuous climb that gains 2,800 feet in 3.3 miles. The view from the summit of this lofty peak reveals a number of mountain ranges located inside and outside the boundaries of Yellowstone, including the Grand Tetons to the south. The 360º panoramas are second to none which makes this a must-see destination for anyone's Yellowstone bucket list.

Day 3 - Difficult - 8.5 mi/13.6 km
On day three we'll enjoy the sunrise from camp before returning to the trailhead via the Heart Lake Trail. As we climb up and away from the lake we'll stop and inspect the thermal features that are part of the Heart Lake Geyser Basin.

Day 3 - (the 5 day trip will continue along this route) Moderate - 7.6 mi/12 km
After enjoying a cup of coffee and a picture-perfect sunrise over Heart Lake we'll break camp and continue heading south along the Heart Lake Trail, following the landscape as it undulates below Mount Sheridan. Before long we'll leave Heart Lake behind for a day as we head deeper into the Snake River drainage. The next 3.1 miles to the junction with the Basin Creek Cutoff Trail are nicely wooded and it's a pleasant hike that takes us past the eastern edge of Sheridan Lake. A large beaver dam at the southern end of the lake has raised the water level significantly. The dam is easily visible from the trail and is a testament to this animals resourcefulness. When we reach the Basin Creek Cutoff Trail we'll head south along this trail past a beautiful meadow that's an ideal spot to look for grizzly bears. Before long we'll join the Snake River Trail and head northeast to campsite 8C5 where we'll spend the night camped beside the Snake River.

Note: There are multiple stream crossings along the following section of the trail. Sandals are highly recommended for this 5-day trip.

Day 4 - (the 5 day trip will continue along this route) Easy - 6 mi/10 km
Soon after leaving camp we'll join the Heart River Trail/Continental Divide Trail as it meanders north toward the eastern edge of Heart Lake. The terrain climbs gently along the Heart River which makes this an enjoyable day. Low hillsides flank the trail as it climbs to meet the Trail Creek Trail just west of Surprise Creek. From here we'll turn left and head west to our final campsite on the north side of the lake (8J1 or 8J2).

Day 5 - Difficult - 9.0 mi/14 km
The last day will be a long hike back to the trailhead, and what comes down must go up! Once we reach the Heart Lake Trail we'll begin the 3.0 mile climb up and away from the shores of Heart Lake. Once we reach the top of the climb you'll have 4.5 miles to reflect on your journey around this remote Yellowstone lake.

NOTE: the largest lake trout ever caught in Yellowstone National Park was taken in Heart Lake and weighed 43 pounds. A park fishing license is required if you plan to fish during your visit. Click here for more information about Yellowstone's fishing regulations.

Click here to read the complete trail description for Heart Lake.

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Trip Dates

Price Per


Total Distance






July 24-28


5 Days/4 Nights

32.5 mi/52 km



7,000-10,000 ft.



What's Included?
Round-trip transportation from Bozeman to Yellowstone National Park, Professional Guide, Backcountry Permits, Backpack, Tent (3-season, 2-person), Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad (20º F), Cook Stove, Cooking Fuel, Water Filter; Trekking Poles, Group First-aid Kit, Bear Spray, Meals and Snacks (meals are supplied while backpacking only). See the gear checklist below for the additional items you are responsible for bringing.

NOTE: If you supply your own backpacking equipment/clothing and food (see items listed above) you will receive a discount of $200 off your trip. Please let us know ahead of time so we can plan accordingly.

If you have any food allergies or special meal preferences please let us know and we'll do our best to accommodate your request. Additional fees may apply for special dietary food requests. We pack a variety of meals for dinners along with high-calorie energy bars, oatmeal, dried fruits, granola, nuts, and beef jerky for lunches.

Returning guests will receive a 10% discount on all future trips with us.

Not Included?
Airfare, Trip Insurance, Hotel Reservations, Personal Items

For flight and rental car information please click here.

Travel Agency
Need help getting to and from the area? Contact TravelCafe

Shuttle Services
There are a number of reliable shuttle services in the region that offer transportation to and from the park.
Karst Stage
Yellowstone Road Runner

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Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Gear Checklist Yellowstone Backpacking Preparation
  1. A good pair of waterproof hiking boots
    (already broken-in)
  2. Rain gear/jacket and rain pants
  3. Warm coat (fleece or down).
    Temps can drop into the 20's and 30's ºF at night.
  4. 3-4 pairs of synthetic hiking socks
  5. Sunscreen (small tube)
  6. Sandals or lightweight water shoes (No flip flops)
  7. Quick-drying hiking pants (zip-off legs are ideal),
    and/or a pair of shorts (no jeans)
  8. Mid to lightweight long underwear
    (tops and bottoms)
  9. Synthetic t-shirts
  10. Baseball hat or wide-brimmed hat
  11. Knit hat and warm gloves
  12. Personal items (deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste,
    lip balm, etc.). We strongly urge you to bring products with a minimal scent.
  13. Sunglasses
  14. Bug spray (on trips where indicated)
  15. Your sense of adventure

Optional Equipment/Items

  1. Gaiters
  2. Camera
  3. Binoculars
  4. Pocket knife or multi-tool
  5. A good book or magazine
While these hikes are generally moderate in difficulty they do require a certain level of fitness and conditioning. Much of Yellowstone is situated at elevations that are above 6,000 ft. which can limit your normal level of physical activity. We recommend a regular fitness routine that includes most forms of cardio activity as well as regular day hikes in the footwear you plan to hike in. You must be able to carry between 30 and 60 lbs. of equipment in a variety of weather conditions and over a variety of terrain.

Medical Conditions
Please make us aware of any pre-existing medical conditions you or anyone in your party may have. If you are taking medications for these ailments please let us know. We will email you the appropriate forms once a trip is booked.

Yellowstone Weather
The weather in Yellowstone is very unpredictable and even though our trips are run during the summer months it can snow at any time of the year in Yellowstone. Daytime temperatures can range between 40ºF and 85ºF and nighttime temperatures can drop into the 20's and 30's ºF. You must be prepared for any type of weather. Click here for detailed information on the weather in Yellowstone.

Getting to Yellowstone
We recommend flying into the Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) at Gallatin Field which is located 90 miles from the West Entrance and West Yellowstone, MT, and 95 miles from the North Entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs and the Albright Visitor Center. Click here for more information on air travel and rental car services.

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Number of People
Please Choose Your Dates
Deposit, Refund & Cancellation Policies

A deposit of $350 per person is required prior to the start of each trip.
For groups of 4 or more the deposit is $1,000 to reserve a trip.
The remaining balance is due 30 days prior to the trip date.
If you book a tour less than 60 days prior to the trip date the full amount is due.

Trips cancelled up to 60 days prior to the tour date will have the initial deposit returned.
Trips cancelled between 60 and 30 days will receive a 50% refund on the total package price.
Trips cancelled less than 30 days from the start date are non refundable.*
Cancellations must be made in writing or by email.
Refunds will be issued within 90 days from the cancellation date.

* You may reschedule your trip if necessary. Email us for details.

Trail Guides, LLC reserves the right to cancel a trip at any time prior to the start date.
Under these circumstances we will refund the entire amount of the trip, including the deposit.
However, we cannot be held liable for individual travel expenses such as;
airfare, rental cars, equipment, meals, trip insurance, travel visas, medical expenses, etc.

NOTE: All backpacking trips are operated rain or shine. Because of the remote locations in which these trips are conducted
our schedule can vary depending on a variety of conditions but we make every effort to adhere to the itineraries outlined above.
The park service may close backcountry areas, campsites and trails due to bear, flood or wildfire activity.
If a tour is cancelled for reasons beyond our control we will issue a credit for a trip of equal value.

Cell service is very inconsistent throughout the park and we may not be able to contact you if we’re running late or vice versa. Wildlife and other unforeseen circumstances including, but not limited to; traffic jams, wildfires, animals, accidents, etc. can significantly delay our/your travel time to the designated meeting points, but we make every effort to be on time. Please be patient. Delays are inevitable in Yellowstone but we cannot be held liable for these unexpected inconveniences. On the day your trip begins you are required to wait for your guide a minimum of 2-3 hours from the appointed start time unless otherwise instructed. Day hikes and backpacking trips are non-refundable under these circumstances.

Click here to download a copy of our deposit, refund and cancellation policies.

We highly recommend purchasing trip insurance before you travel:

For more information please contact us at:
Tel: 1-406-595-1823

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