Hiking the Wrangler Lake Trail
Wrangler Lake Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #10, Wrangler Lake Trails
Wapiti Lake Trailhead 4K7
North Central Section - Light Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: North Central Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Easy - Out-and-back or overnighter
Distance: 8.0 mi/12.8 km round-trip
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.
Best time to visit: Late July-October

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 1 site - 4W1
Click here to view a list of 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 - Wapiti Lake (4K7)
From Canyon:
Drive approximately 2.4 miles south on the Grand Loop Road heading toward the Hayden Valley. Make a left toward Artist Point. The Wapiti Lake Trailhead is located on the right just after crossing Chittenden Bridge.
Get Directions from Canyon Village

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Wrangler Lake Trailhead Location

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Wrangler Lake Overview Map
Wrangler Lake Topo Map
Wrangler Lake Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent to Fair
Difficulty: Easy
Total Mileage: 8.0 mi /12.8 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back or overnighter
Wow Factor: Beautiful meadows and a quiet lake
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.

Nearest Facilities: Canyon Village
2.4 miles south of Canyon Village - Get Directions
Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.708612
Longitude: -110.501255

Wrangler Lake Coordinates
Latitude: 44.683423
Longitude: -110.435429

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 7,750 ft.
Wrangler Lake Elevation = 7,800 ft.
Elevation Gain = 400 ft.
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Wrangler Lake Trail Description

Wrangler Lake Trail Description (Wapiti Lake Trailhead 4K7) - Light Traffic

This small and secluded lake is nestled in the lodgepole forests just north of the Hayden Valley. On crisp autumn evenings listen for the distinct sounds of bugling elk as they move through the thick pines beside the lake.

As you head east out of the large parking lot the trail climbs a short hill to a beautiful overlook where you'll often spot bison roaming this open landscape just south of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. From this vantage point you have a wide panorama southeast toward toward the Hayden Valley. To the north the summit of Mount Washburn can be seen on the distant horizon.

At mile 0.5 the trail forks. The left fork heads to Ribbon and Clear Lakes. The right path (Sour Creek Trail) heads in an easterly direction. Keep right and follow this to a second junction at mile 0.9. Once again the trail splits with the left fork heading to Wapiti Lake. Continue heading right on the Sour Creek Trail. The path is less defined through this area but if you look across the meadow and down the hill you'll notice the orange trail marker on the trunk of a tree. After you spot the marker continue down the hill and enter the trees. Here the trail becomes much easier to follow.

At 1.3 miles the trail crosses a dry creek just south of a large thermal area. As you exit the trees there are beautiful views across the north end of the Hayden Valley. Steam can often be seen rising from tops of Sulphur Mountain and the Crater Hills. At mile 1.6 you reach the junction for Wrangler Lake. Stay left. The Sour Creek Trail continues right through the valley where it eventually connects with the Howard Eaton Trail. Shortly after this junction the trail crosses another dry creek and moves out of the forest and into more open terrain. This is a very pleasant stretch of trail that takes you through the north end of this sweeping valley. Once again, Mount Washburn is visible just beyond the treeline to the northeast.

At 2.9 miles you'll reach a small stream that requires a minor ford. The trail continues through another meadow before reaching Sour Creek isn't terribly difficult to cross. After fording Sour Creek the trail climbs a small hillside, heading through a small break in the trees. As you gain elevation the trail slowly heads to the right. Stay right at the top of the hill and enter the trees.

At mile 3.9 Wrangler Lake finally comes into view. The trail drops to the level of the lake before entering the trees on its north side. Site 4W1 (★★★) is nicely wooded and makes for a easy day hike or a pleasant one or two night backcountry stay.

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
Mary Mountain/Nez Perce (Trailhead 4N1) - An easy hike through the wildlife-rich Hayden Valley.
Sevenmile Hole (Trailhead 4K6) - Hike along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before dropping to the Yellowstone River.
Ribbon & Clear Lakes (Trailhead 4K7) - Can be done as a nice loop or out-and-back. Provides access to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Howard Eaton (Trailhead 4K7) - Heads south through the Hayden Valley.
Artist Point (Trailhead 4K8) - A very popular destination with spectacular views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Nearby Campgrounds
Canyon Village Campground - Canyon Village Campground is located approximately 2.4 miles north of the Wapiti 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 Wapiti Lake Trailhead to the Canyon Village 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 located in Canyon Village along with a general store.

Directions to the Wrangler 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 Wapiti Lake Trailhead

Click the map to launch directions
from Canyon Village to the Wapiti Lake Trailhead.
Provides access to Wrangler Lake.


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