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Shoshone Lake Trail

 4.2 (5)
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7.1 Miles 11.4 Kilometers

554' 169 m


-394' -120 m



Avg Grade (1°)


Max Grade (8°)

8,044' 2,452 m


7,651' 2,332 m


Shared By Tom Carter



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The shortest way to reach the best backcountry geyser basin in the park!

Tom Carter

Dogs No Dogs

Features Geyser · Hot Spring · Lake · River/Creek · Views

Backcountry hydrothermal areas are not equipped with boardwalks. Scalding-hot water or steam can lie beneath a thin crust. Use extreme caution when entering Shoshone Geyser Basin. Stay on well-worn paths and away from areas devoid of vegetation. Remember, careless activity in backcountry thermal areas is not only dangerous, but destructive to these rare and fragile features.


The Shoshone Lake Trail begins at a three-way junction between it, the Lone Star Geyser Trail, and the Howard Eaton Trail. It travels 7.1 mostly forested miles over an easy crossing of the Continental Divide, through Shoshone Geyser Basin, and ends at an intersection with the South Shore Shoshone Lake Trail.

The trail quickly makes a bridged crossing of the Firehole and travels .5 miles through a minor hot spring area. It follows the Firehole past several campsites and enters a lovely meadow at the 1.5-mile mark. It skirts the east side of the meadow for a 1/4 mile then enters the forest and begins a steady 350-foot climb over the next mile. It continues over rolling terrain another 1/2 mile to Grants Pass on the Continental Divide at the 3.3-mile mark.

The pass was named for President Grant, who signed the bill creating Yellowstone on March 1, 1872. Although the unmarked pass is not picturesque, you truly are on top of the world. Water from the Firehole River behind you flows to the Gulf of Mexico via the Madison, Missouri, and the Mississippi rivers. The drainage ahead of you eventually flows west to the Pacific Ocean via Shoshone Creek, and the Lewis, Snake, and Columbia rivers.

From the pass, the trail gradually descends 200 feet over 3 miles to the geyser basin. Along the way it passes a junction with the Bechler River Trail (on the right at 4 miles), and the Shoshone Geyser Basin Horse Cutofff Trail (on the right at 5 miles) and follows Shoshone Creek into a nice-sized meadow. At the 6-mile mark the trail passes North Shore Shoshone Lake Trail on the left, then quickly bears right and enters Shoshone Geyser Basin.

At least one hour is necessary to explore the many geysers and hot springs on either side of Shoshone Creek. The 1878 Hayden Survey named many of these features. The largest geyserite deposit in the basin belongs to Minuteman Geyser, which you'll see first. During its active phase its irruptions almost live up to the name. Union Geyser, with three conspicuous cones, lies on the same side of the creek at the south end of the basin. Though its eruptions are rare, an occasional backpacker is treated to a spectacular sight. All three cones erupt simultaneously. On the opposite side of the creek, Lion Geyser and Bronze Geyser occasionally erupt.

The trail continues south through a meadow, across Shoshone Creek, and ends at an intersection with the South Shore Shoshone Lake Trail. From here its another 15 miles to the highway.

Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.


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  4.2 from 5 votes


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Joe Sweeney
Brooklyn, NY
Joe Sweeney   Brooklyn, NY
Nice, easy walk. Pretty scenery, but unspectacular. The back country thermal area at the end was pretty cool. Did this as an easy overnight backpacking trip with my brother and 12 year-old nephew. Would be long for a day hike. Aug 27, 2018

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