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Yellowstone National Park: Riddle Lake

This easy-going hike winds past lodgepole forest and grassy stream beds to the black sand beaches of a backcountry lake in Yellowstone National Park.

Trip Tools

Trace the shoreline of a small mountain lake dotted with pond lilies on this 4.9-mile out-and-back. From the Riddle Lake Trailhead, hike east into thick lodgepole pine forest. The gentle trail rolls and winds across mellow terrain, offering glimpses of grassy meadows (prime bear habitat).

After a mile, cross two small streams before turning right for the half mile stretch to Riddle Lake. At the northwest edge of the lake, continue along the shoreline for another half mile to the larger beach area—views of the Red Mountains and 10,305-foot Mount Sheridan rise up behind the lake. Relax in the warmth of the black sand or on the log bench near the trees. Follow the same route back to your car.

Note: This trail is closed from April 30 through July 14.

MORE PARK INFO Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381;

-Mapped by Jeff Chow

To Trailhead

From West Thumb, head southwest on Grand Loop Rd./US 14/US 16/US 20. In 0.2 mile, turn left onto S Entrance Rd./John D Rockefeller Jr. Rd. Go 4.1 miles to trailhead parking on the left.

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