This wonderful loop takes you by historic Indian Pond, along Yellowstone Lake to spectacular Storm Point, then along the lakeshore, before looping back to the trailhead. It affords excellent opportunities to observe buffalo, marmots, waterfowl, and even grizzly. For the effort, its the best hike in the Park!
The trail travels south and rounds the edge of Indian Pond. Native American artifacts found here in 1880, including corrals and wickiups, are responsible for the lake's name. An early geologist noted, "Indian Pond . . . appears to have been a favorite camping ground for manufacturing implements, being convenient to quarries, and nearby the hunting grounds of Pelican Valley and the fishing resorts of Yellowstone Lake."
Look for buffalo resting near Indian Pond or grazing nearby. Native Americans and early settlers used dried buffalo dung, or "buffalo chips," as fuel for fires. Once an estimated 60 million buffalo roamed the American West. By 1890 they were nearly exterminated. Yellowstone is the only place where wild buffalo have persisted since white man arrived in the new world. If you encounter these magnificent animals, give them a wide berth. Although peaceful in appearance, they are very dangerous.
The trail continues to Yellowstone Lake, then turns right and parallels the shore. Near Storm Point the trail passes an area teaming with yellow-bellied marmots (western woodchucks). These golden brown rodents easily attain a length of two feet, counting their short bushy tail. Listen for their distinctive shrill, chirping voice. These animals are true hibernators. During the winter they burrow into the ground and "power down" their metabolism. Their body temperature drops to almost freezing, their heart beats only four times each minute and they enter a deep coma-like sleep. In this way they conserve energy and can survive until spring.
Storm Point is also a good area to spot a variety of waterfowl, including mallard, lesser scamp, Barrow's goldeneye, and common merganser. With a little luck you may see a flock of Canada geese or even a white pelican.
Storm Point is well named. During the afternoons, particularly during storms, the prevailing southwest wind blows across the lake and builds large waves that are dashed against the rocky shore below. Marveling at the lake's power and beauty, the 1869 Cook-Folsom-Peterson party saw the lake as having "crystal waves dancing and sparkling in the sunlight as if laughing for joy for their wild freedom."
From Storm Point, the trail continues along the lake shore a short distance before looping back to the right and entering the forest. It eventually breaks out of the forest and rejoins the trail near the trailhead.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone