Hiking the Lewis Channel & Dogshead Trails
Lewis Channel & Dognshead Trails, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #4, Lewis Channel & Dogshead Trails
Shoshone/Dogshead Trailhead 8K1
Southwest Section - Moderate Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Southwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Easy - Out-and-back, loop or overnighter
Distance: 10.8 mi/17.3 km as a loop
Elevation Gain: 720 ft.
Best time to visit: July-October

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 1 site - 8S1
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.
Trail Maps: Beartooth Publishing - Yellowstone National Park

Finding the Trailhead - Shoshone/Dogshead (8K1)
From Grant Village:
Drive approximately 5 miles south toward Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park via the South Entrance Road. The Shoshone/Dogshead Trail will be on the right as you are heading south. Get Directions from Grant Village

Shoshone & Dogshead Trailhead Location

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Lewis Channel & Dogshead Overview Map
Lewis Channel & Dogshead Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent
Difficulty: Easy
Total Mileage: 10.8 mi /17.3 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back, loop or overnighter
Wow Factor: You'll wish you had a kayak
Elevation Gain: 720 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Grant Village
4.8 miles south of Grant Village - Get Directions
Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.320296
Longitude: -110.598247

Shoshone Lake Coordinates
Latitude: 44.358960
Longitude: -110.662494

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 7,800 ft.
Shoshone Lake = 7,826 ft.
Elevation Gain = 720 ft.
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Lewis Channel & Dogshead Trail Description

Lewis Channel & Dogshead Trail Description (Trailhead WK6) - Moderate Traffic

Whether you're a hiker, fisherman, canoeist or kayaker the Lewis Channel Trail has a little something for everyone.

The Lewis Channel trail is extremely flat over the first mile as it travels through a mix of burned and unburned forests, eventually making its way toward the northern edge of Lewis Lake. This is the third largest body of water in Yellowstone at 2,716 acres and was named after Meriwether Lewis who, along with William Clark, led the famous Corps of Discovery Expedition across the continent between 1804–1806. The lake is open to both motorboats and hand-propelled watercraft and offers anglers a chance to fish for non-native species like browns, brookies and lake trout. Motorized boats however, are not allowed to venture up the Lewis Channel to Shoshone Lake, and if you prefer to travel by canoe or kayak, this is an amazing way to explore these two bodies of water. Shoshone Lake has a handful of backcountry campsites that are only accessible by boat which makes this a whole new backcountry experience.

At 0.8 miles the trail crosses a small channel that eventually drains into the lake further to the west. From this creekbed the trail turns sharply to the west and heads directly toward the shoreline of Lewis Lake. After reaching the gravel beach at the northern end of Lewis Lake you'll have unobstructed views of the surrounding area. If you look far to the south it's hard not to miss the towering peaks of the Grand Tetons that seem perfectly situated near the lowest point at the opposite end of the lake. To the east the Red Mountains rise to just over 10,000 feet with Mount Sheridan (not visible from here) being the tallest at 10,305 ft. This mountain range is often one of the last in Yellowstone to shed the snows of winter, which can remain on these peaks well into July.

For the next half mile the trail follows the shoreline before moving inland briefly as it swings around a large point that leads to the Lewis Channel outlet at 2.5 miles. If you've come to Lewis Lake for the fishing, the entrance to the channel is one of the best places to start, and it's worth the effort to get here either by boat or on foot. After you reach the Lewis River/Channel the trail heads directly north along this pristine waterway connecting Lewis and Shoshone lakes. As you hike along the Lewis River the trail climbs a handful of smaller hills that offer spotty views through the trees down to the water below.

At 4 miles the trail reaches a sharp bend in the river where it swings left, crossing a small drainage before climbing to a beautiful overlook that is one of my favorite spots along this entire hike. From this small rocky vantage point you can look deep into the crystal clear waters of the Lewis River and it's the perfect place to stop and soak your feet, have lunch, and enjoy the quiet beauty that surrounds this pristine river.

After this sharp bend the trail moves inland briefly before reconnecting with the river once again at 4.5 miles. The character of this watercourse changes slightly through this area, becoming significantly wider in spots, then tapering as it flows through a series of braided channels that continue until you reach the 4.8 mile mark. At this spot the trail climbs a small hillside that has fairly unobstructed views of the river. From the top of this incline there were a pair of hawks circling high above, their outstretched wings were the only shapes visible in the clear blue sky overhead.

Leaving this vantage point the trail descends to the waters edge where, for the first time you'll actually be hiking right next to the waters edge. The river along this stretch becomes much more active with a few more riffles and a bit more speed. If you were navigating this section by boat I imagine it would require a little extra effort from both your arms and back. NOTE: If you are traveling by boat you may need to wade through some portions of the Lewis River as you get closer to Shoshone Lake. Check with park rangers regarding the river conditions before departing.

At 5.1 miles the river makes a series of sharp turns as you near the junction with the DeLacy Creek Trail, which enters from the north, and the Shoshone Lake Trail which continues west along the south side of Shoshone Lake. This 8,050 acre lake is the second largest in Yellowstone and has more than 10 backcountry campsites that are accessible by boat only, making Shoshone Lake a paddlers paradise. If you plan to stay at campsite 8S1, this site is only available for the first and last night of any trip, and is considered a "shared site" that is available to both hikers and boaters. Wood fires are not allowed at any of the campsites along Shoshone Lake except at 8M2. Click here to read more about camping and boating along the Lewis Channel and Shoshone Lake.

From the trail junction near Shoshone Lake turn north and hike for another 0.2 miles until you reach the Dogshead Trail. Turn right again and head southeast through dense pines and knee-high grass along part of the Continental Divide Trail. Before long you'll begin a few short and easy climbs to the highest point along the trail at just around 8,000 ft. Beginning at around mile 7 the trail passes through new growth combined with considerable standing deadwood. Occasionally you'll see the Lewis River and the Lewis Lake off to the right and farther to the east the Red Mountains can be seen poking up through the dead snags that line the trail.

At 9.5 miles the trail connects with a wider gravel road as it enters an area that was unaffected by the surrounding fire. This offers a bit of shade as you walk the last 1.3 miles back to the trailhead.

NOTE: All watercraft operating within Yellowstone National Park, including float tubes, are required to purchase a boating permit from the park service. You can obtain boating permits at the backcountry offices located at Lewis Lake or Grant Village.

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
Riddle Lake (Trailhead 7K3) - A very popular and easy day hike to Riddle Lake.
Heart Lake (Trailhead 8N1) - Provides access to Mount Sheridan and the Trail Creek Trail. Both are premier multi-day destination.
Phantom/Pitchstone (Trailhead 8K4) - A quiet day hike or overnight destination in the southern region of the park.

Nearby Campgrounds
Grant Village Campground - Grant Village Campground is located approximately 5 miles north of the Dogshead Trail and has 430 sites and full amenities. Sites are $29.00 + per night. Includes 2 showers per day. Reservations accepted. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm. Click here to make online reservations or call: 1-866-439-7375. A general store, restaurant, gift shop, visitor center and gas station (seasonal) are located nearby - Get directions from the Lewis Channel/Dogshead Trailhead to the Grant Village Campground.

Lewis Lake Campground -Lewis Lake Campground is located approximately 3 miles south of the Shoshone/Dogshead Trail and has 85 sites. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted. Not recommended for motorhomes or trailers over 25' - Get directions from the Lewis Channel/Dogshead Trailhead to the Lewis Lake Campground.

Post Hike Meals
There is a restaurant, general store, gas station, visitor center and gift shop located approximately 5 miles away at Grant Village.

Directions to the Lewis Channel 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 Lewis Channel & DogsheadTrailhead

Click the map to launch directions
from Grant Village to the
Lewis Channel/Dogshead Trail.


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