Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
393.00 ft (119.79 m)
Trail type
11.00 mi (17.70 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Great views. Swimming.



Trailhead Elevation

7,800.00 ft (2,377.44 m)


Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Bird watching
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day


Suitable for



Nearby Lodging + Camping


A great hike and also a terrific canoe or kayak trip from the foot of Lewis Lake across the lake and up the Lewis Channel to Shoshone Lake. Shoshone is for non-motorized craft only and there are amazing campsites accessible only by water on the far shore. From these you can travel along the lake to the Shoshone Geyser basin for interesting exploration. You'll be amazed at the solitude you will find here in the midst of a busy national park!
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