Hiking the Lost Lake Trail
Lost Lake Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #4, Lost Lake Trail
Lost Lake Trailhead - Roosevelt Lodge/ Tower
Northeast Section - Moderate Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northeast Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Moderate - Out-and-back or loop
Distance: 3.5 mi/5.6 km as a loop
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.
Best time to visit: May-November

Backcountry Camping: None

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

Finding the Trailhead - Lost Lake - Roosevelt Lodge/ Tower
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
Drive approximately 18.1 miles east on route 212 toward Tower Junction. When you reach Tower Junction make a right at the Roosevelt Corrals and park anywhere on the left. The trailhead is 0.2 miles along the dirt road that runs from the corral to the lodge. As you pass the lodge on the left and follow the path to the trailhead. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

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Lost Lake Trailhead Location

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Lost Lake Overview Map
Lost Lake Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Mileage: 3.5 mi /5.6 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back or loop
Wow Factor: Waterfalls, lakes and a petrified tree
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Roosevelt Lodge/ Tower
18.1 miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions
Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.915993
Longitude: -110.415800

Lost Lake Coordinates
Latitude: 44.909440
Longitude: -110.430011

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 6,350 ft.
Lake Elevation = 6,730 ft.
Elevation Gain = 300 ft.
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Lost Lake Photo Gallery
Lost Lake Trail Description

Lost Lake & Lost Creek Falls Trail Descriptions (Roosevelt Lodge/ Tower) - Moderate Traffic

Just behind the Roosevelt Lodge you'll find a short day hike that's a real gem. The Lost Lake Loop is only 3.5 miles in length but it has a wide variety of scenery and makes for a wonderful family day hike. You'll visit Lost Creek Falls, admire the remnants of a petrified redwood tree and gaze across miles of Yellowstone wilderness.

If you're staying at the Roosevelt Lodge make sure you put this hike on your to-do list. Walk the trail to Lost Creek Falls which is less than 3/10 of a mile from the lodge. This beautiful 40 ft. waterfall is our first stop on this hike.

From the parking lot at the Roosevelt Corrals walk along the dirt road toward the lodge. A sign indicates this path is for foot and horse traffic only. Continue past the lodge and past a series of small out buildings to the trailhead which is marked by a large wooden sign indicating the direction to both Lost Creek Falls (left) and Lost Lake (right).

The trip to the waterfall is an easy hike through a deep and shady canyon that follows the bubbling waters of Lost Creek. The rocks along this small stream are covered by brightly colored mosses and the air is cooled by the shade of the tall pine trees lining the steep canyon. The trail ends at a small wooden bench where you'll have a nice view of this 40 ft. waterfall as it plunges from a narrow break in the canyon wall above. A large round boulder sits near the top of the waterfall and seems strangely out of place in this landscape. Tall narrow columns of basalt reflect the sun's light as it illuminates the sand colored walls of this beautiful canyon behind the Roosevelt Lodge.

After a visit to Lost Creek Falls simply retrace your steps to the trail sign where you'll head west (right) toward Lost Lake. To reach the lake the trail climbs a steep hillside in a series of well graded switchbacks. The trail is easy to follow and there are plenty of wildflowers to inspect along the way. We came across the rare and distinct looking calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa) which was growing in two small clusters beside the trail. This rare wildflower coexists with a soil-borne fungus and it was a real treat to see it in full bloom (see photo gallery above).

At the top of this steep climb the trail flattens just before intersecting with the trail to the Tower Fall Campground. From here you'll continue heading to the right where you'll cross a narrow footbridge spanning a small stream that exits the lake. The trail then swings left and passes a marshy area at the east end of Lost Lake. Before long the trail reaches the northern edge of this peaceful and secluded lake. Yellow pond lily (Nuphar luteum polysepala) hugs the shoreline and its bright yellow flowers are easily visible as they float between the large, heart-shaped leaves of this native perennial.

As you reach the western edge of the lake the landscape opens into a small meadow before turning right (north). Here the trail is squeezed between two small hills that descend on both sides of the trail. A small creek follows the trail until you reach the alternate trailhead for Lost Lake at the parking lot for the petrified tree. This trailhead can be a very busy place because it also provides access to the petrified redwood tree located nearby. Many millions of years ago the trees in this region were engulfed in volcanic ash and mudflows during a more active geologic period. The process of petrification takes place underground when wood is buried by sediments such as volcanic ash. The wood is then preserved because oxygen, which inhibits aerobic decomposition, is no longer present in the soil. Mineral-laden water flowing in the sediment deposits these minerals in the plant's cells. As the plant's lignin and cellulose decay, a stone replica of the once organic matter forms in its place.

After a quick stop at this busy landmark the trail climbs a short but steep hill as it heads in an easterly direction back to the Tower Junction area. As you top out on a small plateau you'll have a grand view of Sugarloaf and Cutoff mountains rising along the distant horizon to the northeast. Sagebrush covers the hillsides and the views stretch across miles of Yellowstone wilderness. The rolling terrain of Specimen Ridge is clearly visible to the southeast and on the ground below your feet you'll find the bright blue flowers known as forget-me-nots growing among the thick green grasses of spring.

Descending a few switchbacks takes you past the maintenance area behind the Tower Ranger Station. The trail continues past these unattractive structures and completes the loop at the trailhead behind the Roosevelt Lodge. After the hike you can relax in a rocking chair on the front porch of this rustic Yellowstone lodge.

Roosevelt Lodge
The Roosevelt Lodge was constructed in 1920 and was named after Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States. There are two types of cabins located at the Roosevelt Lodge and guests can stay in either the Frontier Cabins which have running water, a private bathroom and showers, or the Roughrider Cabins which are a bit more sparse in their accommodations with communal bathrooms and showers located nearby. To make reservations call toll-free 1.866.GEYSERLAND (439-7375) or 307.344.7311.

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
Blacktail Deer Creek (Trailhead 1N5) - Provides access to the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone & Yellowstone River Trail.
Specimen Ridge (Trailhead 2K4) - A long open ridge that tops out on Amethyst Mountain (9,614 ft.).
Tower Junction/Garnet Hill Loop (Trailhead 2K2) - An easy 8 mile loop with plenty of great scenery.
Slough Creek (Trailhead 2K5) - A premier destination for hiking, backpacking and fly fishing.
Agate Creek (Trailhead 2K7) - Climbs to a beautiful open ridge before descending steeply to the Yellowstone River. Great fishing.
Buffalo Plateau (Trailhead 2K8) - A long hike that climbs to the northern border of the park and the spacious Buffalo Plateau.
Hellroaring (Trailhead 2K8) - Provides access to the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, Buffalo Plateau, Coyote Creek and Garnet Hill Trails.

Nearby Campgrounds
Tower Fall Campground - Tower Fall Campground is located approximately 2.4 miles south of the Lost Lake Trailhead and has 32 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted. A general store and gas station (seasonal) are located near Tower Fall and Tower Junction - Get directions from the Lost Creek Trailhead to the Tower Fall Campground.

Slough Creek Campground - Slough Creek Campground is located approximately 8.1 miles east of the Lost Creek Trailhead and has 23 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted. Located 2 miles off the NE Entrance Road - Get directions from the Lost Creek Trailhead to the Slough Creek Campground.

Mammoth Campground - Open Year-round - Mammoth Campground is located approximately 18.9 miles west of the Yellowstone River Picnic Area Trailhead and has 85 sites 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 Lost Creek Trailhead to the Mammoth Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits 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
The following restaurants are located in Mammoth and Gardiner.

The Corral Drive-In - Located in Gardiner (Awesome burgers) - Directions
K Bar & Cafe - Pizza and beer. 202 Main Street in Gardiner - Directions
Outlaws Pizza - You guessed it...Pizza. Located on Scott Street in Gardiner - Directions
Terrace Grill - Fast food. Located in Mammoth

There are general stores located at both the Roosevelt Lodge and the Tower Fall areas.

Directions to the Lost 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 Lost Lake Trailhead

Click the map to launch directions
from Mammoth Hot Springs to the
Lost Lake Trailhead.


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