Grizzly Lake Trail
ElevationAscent: 600' 183 m
Descent: -476' -145 m
High: 7,843' 2,391 m
Low: 7,428' 2,264 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)
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“Steep trail goes up and over a ridge to gorgeous Grizzly Lake and continues along its outlet stream.”— Tom Carter
From the trailhead, the trail immediately fords Obsidian Creek and crosses a marshy meadow. At the .4-mile mark, the trail enters a series of switchbacks and steeply climbs 300 feet in the next .2 miles, levels a bit, then climbs another 200 feet, reaching the trail highpoint at the 1.6-mile mark. As you climb the hill think about this – following the 1988 forest fires, pictures of this hill were splashed across newspapers and TV screens. A previous forest fire had left this area with a lot of dead snags and fallen logs. When the 1988 fires ripped through here, there was plenty of dry, dead fuel to burn. This “twice-burned” hill had a devastated, moon-scape appearance. The news media had a feeding frenzy, combing the hill for best angle to make the fires look as destructive as possible. Their pictures, together with fire-burned acreage totals, gave many Americans the false impression that Yellowstone had been completely torched.
From the top of the ridge, the trail steeply switchbacks 300 feet back down the ridge and reaches beautiful Grizzly Lake at 2.1 miles. Grizzly is a gorgeous 135 acre narrow lake tucked tightly between two ridges. It has a maximum depth of 36 feet and sports a healthy population of brook trout. The trail rounds the lake's northern tip and crosses its outlet, Straight Creek (look for a spot to cross on the logjam if you don’t want to get your feet wet). From there the trail rolls up and down over hilly terrain paralleling Straight Creek to a junction with Mount Holmes-Winter Creek Trail at the 4.3-mile mark, along the way passing two nice backcountry campsites. From the trail's end its 4.3 steep miles back to the trailhead or 2.6 miles ahead over flat terrain on the Mount Holmes-Winter Creek Trail to the highway.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park