Two expansive mountain lakes, a scenic river walk, and golden-hued meadows highlight this picturesque, 11.1-mile loop in southwest Yellowstone. From the Dogshead Trailhead, hike northwest on Dogshead Trail through lodgepole pines and forest remnants in the 1988 wildfires. After 1.3 miles, the trail begins a gradual, 2.2-mile climb to its highpoint at 8,000 feet. From here, a mile-long descent leads to a narrow strip of beach overlooking the 80,000-acre Shoshone Lake, the largest backcountry lake in the Lower 48. (The Shoshone Lake Ranger Station and a small campsite are tucked in the trees just east of the beach).
After leaving the lakeshore, the trail travels southeast for less than a mile until it reaches the Lewis Channel, a scenic stretch of river connecting Shoshone Lake with Lewis Lake. (Watch for bald eagles, mule deer, elk, and moose that live along Lewis Channel.) At mile 8.6, skirt the northern shores of Lewis Lake, then pass through a vast meadow before turning east to close the loop back at the trailhead.
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/.
-Mapped by Jason Kauffman