“A short, unattractive trail leads to a view of a small, but pretty lake.”
— Tom Carter
Lake · Wildlife
This trail is not in a Bear Management Area, but it's close. Be on your guard, especially early in the summer, as bears frequent the many creeks that flow into West Thumb during cutthroat spawning season.
The Duck Lake Trail begins on the west side of the West Thumb Geyser Basin
parking lot. The trailhead, which may be hard to spot, begins just across the West Thumb to Fishing Bridge Road.
This short trail leads .4-miles through the trees for a view of Duck Lake. It is not a particularly attractive journey because of the power lines and other human disruption in the area.
Duck Lake has 37 acres of surface area and a maximum depth of 60 feet. It is a pretty lake surrounded by forests.
Duck Lake is believed to have been created by a violent steam explosion. At various times glaciers blanketed Yellowstone. Geologists believe heat from underlying thermal features caused localized melting and the formation of a small lake. As the glacier retreated, shifting ice caused the lake to drain suddenly. The resulting rapid loss of pressure at the surface prompted subterranean superheated water to flash into steam, blasting out this sizable crater. An old Yellowstone Tour Guide joke is Duck Lake was named because it came up through a “quack” in the ground!
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone