The Lewis River Channel Trail begins on the West Thumb to South Entrance road, just north of Lewis Lake. The trail ends at its junction with the South Shore Shoshone Lake Trail
. This delightful trail skirts the north shore of Lewis Lake, picks up the Lewis River Channel, and closely follows it to Shoshone Lake. It can be combined with the Dogshead Trail
to make a nice 11.4 mile loop.
The trail begins in the trees, but at the 1-mile mark crosses a small creek, enters a beautiful meadow, and eventually reaches the shore of Lewis Lake. The lake covers over 2,700 acres and is Yellowstones third largest. It is 108 feet deep and supports a population of brown, lake, and brook trout. It was named after Captain Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame.
After briefly following the shoreline, the trail reenters the trees and continues west until it reaches the Lewis River Channel at the 2.6-mile mark. Here it turns right and closely follows the channel another 3.8 miles to Shoshone Lake. The Lewis River Channel connects Lewis and Shoshone lakes. Since Shoshone is only 11 feet higher than Lewis Lake, the river forms a channel that kayakers and canoeists use to paddle to Shoshone Lake. It is the only river in Yellowstone where boating is allowed. Chances are you'll see canoers on this trip. Watch closely, you may also see osprey, bald eagles, and other water foul that frequent these waters.
The trail above the channel is quite scenic affording nice views of the river and the surrounding area. Youll also notice the remaining effects of the 1988 fires that burned in this area, particularly when the trail wanders from the channel and gains elevation. The fire here was spotty, burning the crowns of some trees and the trunks of others, while leaving some unaffected.
At the 6.4-mile mark, Shoshone Lake is reached. At 8,050 acres, Shoshone is the second largest lake in the park and the largest backcountry lake in the lower 48. Its deep too, with a maximum depth over 200 feet. It was named for the Shoshone Indians who frequented the lake before Yellowstone became a park. Here the trail intersects the South Shore Shoshone Lake Trail
. To the left, the South Shore Trail fords the Lewis River and continues 9 miles to Shoshone Geyser Basin. To the right, the South Shore Trail travels .2 miles to an junction with the DeLacy Creek Trail
and the Dogshead Trail
. To make a loop (and shorten it by 1.5 miles) continue to the right and follow the Dogshead 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