Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone, Wyoming

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Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop

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  • The trailhead sign on the road.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • A small creek crossing before reaching Lewis Lake.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Heading through the thick lodgepole pine forest.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Lewis Lake's north shore with the Red Mountains in the background.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Bundled up for the very common thunderstorms that occur in Yellowstone.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Marshy spots are to be expeted through early summer.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Taking a break on the Lewis River Channel.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Hiking the Lewis River Channel.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Lewis River Channel.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Exploring the shores of Shoshone Lake.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Shoshone Lake is the Lower 48's largest backcountry lake.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Shoshone Lake Patrol Cabin.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Enjoying the shores of Shoshone Lake.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • A couple of little stream crossing are to be expected on the Dogshead Trail.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Taking a break on the Dogshead Trail.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • Hiking the Dogshead Trail with the Red Mountains and Lewis Lake in the background.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
  • The lodgepole pine is thick and young in Yellowstone because of massive stand-replacing fires in 1988.- Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake Loop
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Swimming.
Cons: 
Mosquitos.
Region:
Yellowstone, WY
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
393.00 ft (119.79 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Horseback
Total Distance: 
11.00 mi (17.70 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,800.00 ft (2,377.44 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The Lewis Lake Channel Loop is a great moderate hike to Yellowstone National Park's Shoshone Lake, the Lower 48's largest backcountry lake. The hike is relatively flat with less than 500 feet of elevation gain. Fishing is an option on the north end of Lewis Lake, the Lewis Channel, and Shoshone Lake.

The hike consist of an 11-mile loop that leads from the Lewis River Channel Trail to Shoshone Lake and returns on the Dogshead Trail. Starting at the Shoshone/Dogshead Trailhead, the hike takes you through thick contiguous young stands of lodgepole pine before reaching the north shore of Lewis Lake. If the weather is clear, take in the views of the Red Mountains to the east and the Grand Tetons to the south. After crossing the north shore of Lewis Lake the trail drops into the Lewis River Channel. The channel meanders just below the Pitchstone Plateau, and the clear water and deep blue pools will entice any fisherman to explore its potential. Boaters also use the channel as a paddling route to access Shoshone Lake's 20 backcountry campsites. Great swimming holes are worth checking out around the 5-mile mark, where the river takes a large bend and basalt blocks jet out into the river, over clear pools. At mile 6.2 the channel opens up into the marshy south shores of Shoshone Lake. Take a right toward the Dogshead Trail and follow for 0.2 miles. For an overnighter, look into reserving campsite 8S1, a beautiful lakeside campsite with a short trail to a rocky beach on the southeast shores of the lake. A patrol cabin shortly past the campground to the north also provides lake access and a picnic table, making it a great place to take a break before returning on the Dogshead Trail.

Return to the trailhead on the 4.6-mile Dogshead Trail. The Dogshead Trail returns through thick lodgepole pine stands and marshy ponds, a common landscape when hiking the broad Yellowstone plateaus. Wildflowers fill the empty spaces in the spring, and occasional clearings provide good views of the red mountains. 

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