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Emerald and Heather Lakes

Easy/Intermediate

Trail

10.8 mile 17.3 kilometer out and back
86% Runnable
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 2,106' 642 m
Descent: -2,106' -642 m
High: 9,220' 2,810 m
Low: 7,124' 2,171 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 28% (16°)

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Trail shared by Amber Scott

Follow the lovely East Hyalite Creek up a beautiful basin to two stunning subalpine lakes encircled by 10,000ft summits.

Amber Scott

Features Commonly Backpacked · Fishing · Geological Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Hyalite Canyon Road closes April 1 to May 15 during spring flooding.

Because this area is frequented by backpackers, it's common to find the relatively small trailhead parking area full, even very early in the morning.

Overview

Climb steadily from the Emerald Lake Trailhead and parking lot over a variety of trail surfaces from smooth forest floor to rock-and-root strewn switchbacks. Cross the east fork of Hyalite Creek at mile four and climb another half mile before descending briefly to the shore of Emerald Lake. From Emerald Lake the trail continues on a short way to Heather Lake.

Need to Know

This trail is subject to the Trail Timeshare plan which prohibits mountain bike use on Sundays and Mondays between July 16 and September 5.

Because if its popularity, there are many social trails that cut switchbacks or branch off of East Fork Hyalite Creek Trail #434—please be respectful of the valley and limit your impact by staying on the official trail!

Description

Follow Hyalite Canyon Road for almost 12 miles to the southeast end of the Hyalite Reservoir where FS Road #3163 departs to the east—look for signage for Palisade Falls Trailhead. Continue down FS Road #3163, past the Palisade Falls Trailhead, to the terminus of the road and the beginning of East Fork Hyalite Creek Trail #434. There are bathrooms and signage.

Begin up East Fork Hyalite Creek Trail #434 which ascends over 2,000 feet over 5.4 miles, so the elevation gain is substantial but gentle and consistent, making it a fairly mellow climb. Much of the trail passes through coniferous forest, which is fairly dense for the first half, but is interspersed with meadows for the second half. The shade and proximity to water sources for the entire run make this an excellent summer adventure option—be sure to keep an eye out for East Fork Hyalite Creek's numerous waterfalls too!

Emerald Lake appears 4.5 miles up the trail. The shallow lake is stocked with fish (grayling) making it an exciting fishing destination it itself. Then, Heather Lake is another mile farther along the trail, and is similarly stocked with fish. Both lakes offer stunning views of the valley's craggy end. After a snack or lunch, head back down to the trailhead.

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  4.0 from 1 vote

#3645

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#73

in Montana

#3,645

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30 Since Dec 5, 2019
Easy/Intermediate

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Photos

Emerald Lake
Aug 5, 2017 near Bozeman, MT
Trail between Emerald and Heather lakes.
Aug 5, 2017 near Bozeman, MT
Heather Lake
Aug 5, 2017 near Bozeman, MT
Looking for fish in Emerald Lake
Dec 6, 2019 near Bozeman, MT
Emerald Lake
May 15, 2019 near Bozeman, MT
"Snow Survey109.jpg" by USDA NRCS Montana (https://tinyurl.com/uojl4jy), Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
Dec 6, 2019 near Bozeman, MT

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