“The shortest and best route to Shoshone Lake, the largest backcountry lake in the lower 48!
— Tom Carter
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This 7.4 mile trail begins on the Old Faithful
to West Thumb road where it crosses DeLacy Creek and ends at an intersection with the Dogshead Trail
near the Shoshone Lake outlet to Lewis River Channel.
From the trailhead, the trail follows DeLacy Creek for three miles dropping 150 feet to its inlet to spectacular Shoshone Lake. After a mile, the trail breaks out of the forest and enters beautiful DeLacy Meadows. Walter DeLacy entered what is now Yellowstone in 1863 searching for gold. He did not find any, but he did discover Shoshone Lake. He liked it so much he named it for himself DeLacy Lake. In 1872 a member of the second Hayden Survey of Yellowstone officially named it Shoshone Lake after the Indians who frequented the lake. An early park official felt sorry for DeLacy and named this creek after him.
For several miles the trail skirts the eastern side of the meadows affording nice views. The meadow grows wider as it approaches the lake. At the 3-mile mark the trail reaches the lake and a junction with the North Shore Shoshone Lake Trail
which branches to the right. Shoshone Lake, at 8,050 acres, is the second largest lake in the park and is the largest backcountry lake in the lower 48. Here, and along the beach to the right, are some of the finest views hikers can get of the lake, which is best experienced by canoe. Many day trippers enjoy themselves in this area and turn around here.
The DeLacy Creek Trail continues straight, enters the trees, and begins a 4.3 mile up and down roller coaster trip along the eastern shore of Shoshone Lake. The trail is mostly in the trees, but occasionally affords nice views of the lake. Unfortunately, the views are never quite as satisfying as you would like. The last mile of the trail travels through an area heavily burned by the 1988 fires, but is now rejuvenating. The trail ends at its junction with the South Shore Shoshone Lake Trail
and the Dogshead Trail
. Nearby is a backcountry patrol cabin and a campsite. From here, the shortest route to the highway is to the left along the 4.8 mile Dogshead Trail
. But for a more scenic exit, continue straight another tenth of a mile and turn left on the 6.4 mile Lewis River Channel Trail
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone
Flora & Fauna
I often see (and hear) sandhill crane in DeLacy Meadows. These light-brown birds stand as tall as a deer and have a maximum wingspan of 6 feet. Long-legged and long-necked, they look similar to the great blue heron, but can be distinguished by a red patch on the head. Listen for their shrill, musical, ratchet-like call.