A perfect introduction to Yellowstone’s spectacular backcountry, this easy cruiser is ideal for dayhikes with the kids or a low-key overnight. Begin by heading north on the Wolf Lake Trail. With much of the area’s lodgepole forest burnt in the 1988 Yellowstone Fires, you’ll witness an ecology lesson in action as you hike past young lodgepole pines and the now fertile forest floor (blanketed with low-lying vegetation).
After passing the picturesque Little Gibbons Falls and picking up the Howard Eaton Trail at mile 1.3—you’ll hit Ice Lake at mile 2.1. Right before the lake, the trail travels past campsite 4D2, the first of three perched along the lake’s scenic northern shore. Just 0.4 mile later, the next 2 campsites, ideally situated just 15 feet from the lake, offer perfect spots for casual overnights.
To complete the loop, pick up the Ice Lake Trail and head south along the lake’s western shore before reaching another parking lot (0.4 mile down the road from the trailhead). If you have two cars, park one at each lot before starting the hike and carpool back to the trailhead. If not, complete the loop by making the easy hike back to the trailhead along the Norris Road’s wide shoulder.
GUIDEBOOK AND MAP: Yellowstone Treasures, by Janet Chapple ($24, yellowstonetreasures.com). Plan other trips in the park using BACKPACKER’s Yellowstone National Park page.
CONDITIONS: For current conditions and updates, go to nps.gov/yell/conditions.htm.
PERMIT: Overnight camping in Yellowstone National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/backcountryhiking.htm.
MORE PARK INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/
FREE TRIP PLANNERS Get news on vacation deals and lodging at myyellowstonepark.com
-Mapped by Jeff Chow