I had actually planned to talk about the Brink of the Lower Falls Trail today, since I just wrote about it in my latest work in progress, Yellowstone Deception. But yesterday I had a dream about - strangely enough – Trout Lake. So, I’ll take that as a hint, and write about this beautiful little lake and the hike to get there.
We’ve done this hike twice so far. Each time, the enticing factor for me is to see river otters. Supposedly, the lake is home to those cute little critters. We were lucky one summer to see river otters playing in one of several creeks that flow into the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley. While we sat along the road, watching three otters at play, people would drive by, slow down, and since we weren’t staring at bison or a bear, kept on driving. That was fine with us. Lots of people would have no doubt scared the otters away. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with seeing otters again. We hiked to Fairy Falls last year because a ranger told us that otters were spotted in the Little Firehold River there. No luck for us. So far, we’ve had no luck seeing any at Trout Lake, either. But I think we get there at the wrong time of the day. Hopefully this year, we can plan it a little better.
This hike is best done early in the morning, if you hope to see some otters. It’s also a very popular fishing spot for anglers (catch - and - release only), and can get pretty crowded around lunchtime.
Trout Lake is between Tower and the Northeast Entrance, which means (for us) a scenic drive through the beautiful Lamar Valley. That’s also why we always get there so late. There is so much to see in Lamar. The parking area to the trailhead is rather small, so once again, get there early if you don’t want to park further down the road in one of the pull outs.
The trail starts off very steep uphill, and stays that way the entire hike to the lake, a little over a half mile. (Try this hike as a warm-up, followed later in the day by Hellroaring Creek!)
You’ll hear the rushing sound of water from the lake’s outlet well before you see the lake itself. Coming around a narrow bend, it kind of surprises you – in a good way. It is nestled in a lush green meadow which, at the right time of year, is filled with wildflowers.
You can hike around the twelve acre lake, and in late June and early July, witness the spawning of cutthroat trout at the lake’s inlet. What a sight! Spend a few hours taking in the scenery (the fish, the mountains in the background, photographing wildflowers, etc), and enjoy a nice lunch. The nice thing about this hike on the way back, it’s all downhill!