The Hyalite Lake Trail offers some of the best sights in the Hyalite Recreation Area. This long day hike passes 11 waterfalls in a forested canyon en route to an alpine lake surrounded by beautiful rocky peaks. Peak baggers can also hike the extra 2 miles (one way) to the 10,288-foot Hyalite Peak for stunning views of the Gallatin Range and access to the Gallatin Crest Trail.
The first mile is incredibly popular with families because it is a gentle and short climb to Grotto Falls. This is the first of many waterfalls along Hyalite Creek’s long descent from Hyalite Lake to the reservoir. Leave the crowds at Grotto Falls and follow the dirt track up around the boulder field before taking a right at the first junction.
The trail never strays too far from the creek, so you’ll have quick access to the other waterfalls. Silken Skein Falls has its own spur trail and is the farthest you’ll have to go to see a waterfall. Waterfalls can also be seen running down the canyon walls. After Grotto Falls, keep an eye through the tree openings for Twin Falls running down the western wall of the canyon.
After the bridge crossing and a nice view of Apex Falls, begin the steep, switchbacked climb to the lake. The trail eventually emerges out of the forest for a well-earned view of the wide glacier-carved canyon and Divide Peak. Wildflowers are also equally beautiful here in the early summer.
At last, approach Hyalite Lake with its rocky cirque background. The peak directly in view from the trail is the 10,150-foot Fridley Peak. Take time to enjoy the lake or choose to stay overnight before heading back down.
Hyalite is a colorless type of opal found in the canyon. Hyalite Creek was once named Middle Creek until a local businessman petitioned the Gallatin National Forest in 1927 to change the name to something more distinctive and representative of the area.