This clockwise loop begins at the small parking area west of the Hell Creek Bridge, rolls south beneath the road for its first mile, and then turns right just before intersecting the park road. You’ll drop into grassy valley and then climb gently toward a hilltop switchback just before this route’s high point at mile 1.7—a great place to rest and admire views of the lake and valley. After cruising the hilltop, the trail turns downhill and loops beneath a sheer cliff face before winding through a string of stone fenceposts.
The real highlight of this hike is the stretch above the lake that begins at mile 2.5. The slickrock-like trail traces the lakeshore on bluffs and around several inlets. The final stretch of trail heads toward Hell Creek bridge: there are plenty of opportunities to hit lake level, explore pock-marked bluffs and beaches, or cast for fish in the lake’s crystal-clear water.
Watch for snakes and scorpions sunning on the trail, bring plenty of water and be sure to stop at the park’s entry station to pay the nominal day-use fee.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland