This trail begins southwest of Shoshone Lake at a three-way junction between it, the Shoshone Lake Trail
and the Shoshone Geyser Basin Horse Cutofff Trail
. The trail ends at its intersection with the Dogshead Trail
shortly after fording the Lewis River Channel on the southeast corner of Shoshone Lake.
In spite of the trails name, other than the beginning and very end, the trail does not follow the shore. In fact, the trail travels well south of the lake and affords very few views at all. It's primarily used by runners traveling from Old Faithful
to Lewis Lake and through-hikers on the Continental Divide Trail that follows this route.
The first .9 miles the trail parallels the western shore of Shoshone Lake and affords nice views across a small marshy meadow. Along the way, youll pass a nice campsite on the lake. Thereafter the trail leaves the lake, enters the forest, and begins to climb. It rambles, then climbs more steeply, gaining 500 feet and reaching the trails high point at the 2.1 mile mark. Here you are at the north end of the Pitchstone Plateau, one of Yellowstones youngest lava flows, which occurred just 70,000 years ago.
The South Shore Trail is part of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), a National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. Look for heavily laden through-hikers, usually traveling the opposite direction. The CDT follows the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The CDT enters Yellowstone from the south along the Snake River, then passes north of Heart and Lewis lakes, before reaching this section of the trail. It continues to Old Faithful
, then leaves the park to the west along the Summit Lake Trail
From its high point, the South Shore Trail gradually loses 150 feet as it makes its way to a ford of Moose Creek (knee-deep till mid July) at the 6-mile mark. At the 7.3-mile mark the trail passes a lovely meadow where Moose Creek flows into Shoshone Lake. At the 8.8-mile mark the Lewis River Channel is reached. This wide, but slow-moving channel can pose a challenge for runners until mid-July. After the ford, the trail continues north along the lake shore passing a junction with the Lewis River Channel Trail
at 8.9 miles and ending at 9.1 miles where it intersects the DeLacy Creek Trail
and the Dogshead Trail
. The shortest route out is the 4.8 mile Dogshead Trail
. For a more scenic exit, take the 6.4 mile Lewis River Channel Trail
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone