Hiking the Grebe Lake Trail in Yellowstone
Grebe Lake, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #21, Grebe Lake
Grebe Lake Trailhead 4K3
Northwest Section - Heavy Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Easy - Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Distance: 6.6 mi/10.6 km round-trip
Elevation Gain: 130 ft.
Best time to visit: June-October

NOTE: Grebe Lake is one of four lakes in what is called the "Chain of Lakes". They are located on the northern edge of the Solfatara Plateau. You can combine all four lakes into one very relaxing multi-day backpacking trip starting at the Ice Lake Trailhead and finishing at the Cascade Lake Trailhead. Visit this link for details on the "Chain of Lakes" hike. Requires a shuttle.

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 4 sites - 4G2, 4G3, 4G4 & 4G5

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

Finding the Trailhead
Grebe Lake (4K3)
From Canyon:
Drive approximately 3.5 miles west on the Norris/ Canyon Road heading toward Norris Junction. The Grebe Lake Trailhead will be on the right. Get Directions from Canyon Village.

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Grebe Lake Trail Location

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Grebe Lake Overview Map
Grebe Lake Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - can be wet near the lake
Difficulty: Easy
Total Mileage: 6.6 mi /10.6 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back
Wow Factor: A beautiful backcountry lake
Elevation Gain: 130 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Canyon Village
3.5 miles west of Canyon Village - Directions
Grebe Lake TH Coordinates
Latitude: 44.717126
Longitude: -110.549530

Grebe Lake Coordinates
Latitude: 44.751732
Longitude: -110.558424

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 8,154 ft.
Lake Elevation = 8,023 ft.
Elevation Gain = 130 ft.
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Grebe Lake Trail Description

Grebe Lake Trail Description (Trailhead 4K3) - Heavy Traffic

Grebe Lake is a popular destination for day hikers, backpackers and fishermen. Anglers will enjoy fishing for arctic grayling in one of the few places in the Lower 48 that still supports a natural population of this rare and beautiful fish.

The Grebe Lake Trail begins on an old fire road and travels northeast across the gentle terrain of the Solfatara Plateau. For the first miles the trail is wide and flat which makes for very easy hiking. Much of this area was burned during the fires of 1988 and the landscape is a typical mixture of new growth and a labyrinth of fallen trees.

At around mile 1.0 the trail skirts a beautiful little meadow which is near the south end of a small ephemeral pond. Here the trail begins turning to the northwest. At 2.0 miles a dry creek bed appears on the right and parallels the trail as you continue hiking through this maze of fallen trees. Be on the lookout for elk in this area. They can often be seen working their way quietly through the dense timber just before the lake.

Upon reaching Grebe Lake the trail forks and the left path takes you west toward campsite 4G2 (★★★★). There are a number of standing dead trees surrounding this site which gives it a very different feel compared to the other three sites that have healthier trees. There is shade near the cooking area but it's not as plentiful at this campsite. A small hill above the cooking area provides a nice vantage point of the northwest end of Grebe Lake. A small rust colored brook enters the lake just to the west of this campsite.

The main trail continues to the right (east) and follows the marshy shoreline of Grebe Lake to the Howard Eaton Trail Junction at 3.5 miles. From this trail junction you have the option to continue heading west (left) around the north side of Grebe Lake where you'll have access to the other three backcountry campsites. Or, you can head in the opposite direction (right/ east) along the Howard Eaton Trail to Cascade Lake in just under 2.0 miles. If you keep following the Howard Eaton Trail west (left) you will eventually reach Wolf Lake in 1.5 miles. Together this series of lakes forms what is known as the "Chain of Lakes" (Ice, Wolf, Grebe and Cascade). All four can be combined into a very easy multi-day backpacking trip. See the Chain of Lakes Trail for a complete description of this enjoyable 2 to 3 day hike along the Solfatara Plateau.

As you continue hiking in a counter clockwise direction around Grebe Lake the next campsite you'll see is 4G3 (★★★★★). This site is just a short distance from the lake and is situated in a thick stand of tall pine trees. This is our favorite spot along Grebe Lake. A small gravel path leads from the cooking area down to the shoreline where you can fish for both grayling and rainbow trout. These two species of fish average between 11 and 14 inches.

Continuing in a westerly direction the trail crosses a beautiful meadow that borders the north end of the lake. The ground here is often wet but it's easy to navigate past the small streams that descend from the gentle hillside to the north. Before long you'll reach the northwest end of Grebe Lake. Here the trail moves inland briefly before reaching the junction with campsite 4G4 (★★★★★). This is another beautiful site that is located very near the water's edge. There is plenty of shade and a small meadow just behind the cooking area is a great place to pitch a tent.

Our last stop along the lake is campsite 4G5 (★★★) which can be found on the very northwest end of Grebe Lake where the Gibbon River leaves the lake and continues on its journey across the plateau. This site is the least attractive of the four, but it's still a great spot to spend the night. The Howard Eaton Trail continues west toward Wolf Lake (1.5 miles) and makes for a nice day hike if you still have energy leftover after settling in.

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 Hikes
Wolf Lake (Marked - no trailhead number)
Cascade Creek (Trailhead 4K4)
Cascade Lake (Trailhead 4K5)
Cygnet Lakes (Trailhead 4N3)
Chain of Lakes (Ice, Wolf, Grebe & Cascade)

Nearby Camping
Canyon Village Campground - Canyon Village Campground is located approximately 3.5 miles east of the Grebe Lake Trailhead and has 273 sites with a special section for tents only. Campsites are $29.00 per night. Includes 2 showers per day. 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. A gas station, lodging, general store, restaurants, laundry, dump station, and visitor center are located at this campground - Get directions from the Grebe Lake Trailhead to the Canyon Village Campground.

Norris Campground - Norris Campground is located approximately 8.9 miles west of the Grebe 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 Grebe Lake Trailhead to the Norris Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits can be obtained at the Canyon Backcountry Office. Hours vary depending on the time of year - (307) 344-2160. Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Post Hike Meals
There are a variety of restaurants and services located at Canyon Village.

Directions to the Grebe Lake Trailhead
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 Grebe Lake Trailhead

Click the map to launch directions
from Canyon Village to the Grebe Lake Trailhead.


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