Hiking to Trout Lake
Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #13, Trout Lake Trail
Trout Lake Trailhead
Northeast Section - Heavy Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northeast Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: .9 mi/1.4 km as a loop
Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
Best time to visit: Year-round

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
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
Drive approximately 35.8 miles east on route 212 towards the town of Cooke City, MT. The Trout Lake trailhead is located 3 miles past the Soda Butte Trailhead (3K1) along the NE Entrance Road. The trailhead will be on the left if you are heading east. Parking is limited.
Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

From Cooke City: The Trout Lake trailhead is approximately 14.5 miles west of Cooke City on US 212 and 10.4 miles past the NE Entrance Station to Yellowstone. Parking is limited. Get Directions from Cooke City

Pebble Creek Trailhead Location

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Trout Lake Overview Map
Trout Lake Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well marked
Difficulty: Easy
Total Mileage: .9 mi /1.4 km as a loop
Type of Hike: Out-and-back with possible loop
Wow Factor: Amazing wildlife, great fishing
Elevation Gain: 200 ft.

Nearest Towns: Mammoth & Cooke City, MT
35.8 miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions
14.5 miles west of Cooke City, MT - Get Directions
Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.899219
Longitude: -110.123021

Trout Lake Coordinates
Latitude: 44.899926
Longitude: -110.128192

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 6,768 ft.
Trout Lake Elevation = 6,968 ft.
Elevation Gain = 200 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Trout Lake Photo Gallery
Trout Lake Trail Description

Trout Lake Trail Description - Heavy Traffic

An abundance of trout makes this a great destination for fishing but that's not the only reason to visit Trout Lake—this is also an excellent spot to view wildlife in action.

Even though this is a very short hike (0.3 miles to the lake) it's well worth a visit for a number of reasons. If you're a fisherman this small 12-acre lake has a very healthy population of cutthroat and rainbow trout, some of which can grow fairly large. Fishing on Trout Lake is not permitted until June 15th and all anglers must purchase a special fishing license for Yellowstone. Click here for a complete list of fishing regulations.

If you enjoy watching wildlife you'll want to visit in the spring to catch a glimpse of river otters feeding on cutthroats moving up the smaller stream on the north side of the lake to spawn. It's an exciting thing to watch because the otters are very skilled at chasing down their prey and they seem to have the most fun of any animal I've ever seen in the wild. Bring a good pair of binoculars and enjoy the show as these lively little creatures take advantage of the abundant fish population that inhabits the lake.

Osprey are also present at Trout Lake and they will often put on an amazing display of aerial acrobatics as they swoop down on unsuspecting trout from their high vantage points in the surrounding trees. During our visit my friend Dan was able snap a few photos of an osprey as he made an unsuccessful attempt to snatch a trout off the surface of the lake. All of this made for a very memorable day.

Trout Lake is an easy getaway if you only have an hour or two and even with its close proximity to the road you'll feel like you're miles from anywhere.

Keep in mind that this is a very delicate habitat and a variety of animals rely on the lake as a much needed food source. Your presence may alter their behavior so when observing the wildlife at Trout Lake please keep your distance and try to minimize your impact. This will ensure that these animals keep returning for others to enjoy.

Contributing Photographer: A handful of photos from this hike were provided by my friend and outdoor photographer Dan Albright. He has a knack for catching some great moments on film as you'll see in the photo gallery above. You can view more of Dan's incredible imagery by visiting our local photographer showcase page.

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
Specimen Ridge (Trailhead 2K4) - A long open ridge that tops out on Amethyst Mountain (9,614 ft.).
Slough Creek (Trailhead 2K5) - A premier backcountry destination for day hiking, backpacking, fly fishing.
Soda Butte (Trailhead 3K1) - Walk through the north end of the famed Lamar Valley. Connects with the Lamar River and Cache Creek Trails.
Thunderer (Trailhead 3K3) - Climbs to Chaw Pass and connects with the Cache Creek Trail. Provides access to The Thunderer peak.
Pebble Creek Trail (Trailhead 3K4) - A hidden gem. Connects with Slough Creek via Bliss Pass. Highly recommended.

Nearby Camprounds
Pebble Creek Campground - Pebble Creek Campground is located approximately 1 mile northeast of the Trout Lake Trailhead on the NE Entrance Road and has 27 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted - Get Directions from the Trout Lake Trailhead to the Pebble Creek Campground.

Slough Creek Campground - Slough Creek Campground is located approximately 14 miles west of the Trout Lake 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 Trout Lake Trailhead to the Slough Creek Campground.

Tower Fall Campground - Tower Fall Campground is located approximately 20 miles west of the Trout 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 Trout Lake Trailhead to the Tower Fall Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits for this hike 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 Cooke City, Montana.

Beartooth Cafe - Located in Cooke City - 14 Main Street (Awesome sandwiches, burgers and steaks) - Get Directions
K Bar & Cafe - Pizza and beer. 202 Main Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Outlaws Pizza - You guessed it...Pizza. Located on Scott Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Terrace Grill - Fast food. Located in Mammoth

Maps for Hiking Pebble Creek
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 Trout Lake Trailhead

Click the Map to Launch Directions
From Mammoth to the Trout Lake Trailhead.


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