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; nps.gov/yell/
-Mapped by Jeff Chow
- Distance: 7.9
Location: 44.358408, -110.5818129
From the Riddle Lake Trailhead, hike east on flat trail that travels through a mixed forest of lodgepole and spruce.
Location: 44.364821, -110.562019
Cross a stream and a meadow, then hike through a fire burned area (the new trees are now 8 feet tall).
Location: 44.3662318, -110.5581558
The trail veers to the right (south), skirting the edge of a grassy stream bed. Look for bear tracks and moose.
Location: 44.362036, -110.55123
Trace the shoreline of this small mountain lake dotted with pond lilies. In 1872, Riddle Lake was thought to sit directly on the Continental Divide and was named by the Hayden Survey in honor of Lake Riddle, the "mythical lake among the mountains" where water flowed to both oceans. (Riddle Lake's outlet stream actually flows to the Atlantic.) Next, continue 0.4 mile to a scenic, waterfront lunch spot.
Location: 44.3601723, -110.5430603
This large black sand beach is the perfect spot to enjoy the views of 10,305-foot Mount Sheridan directly to the south. Scan Riddle Lake's waters for white pelicans, Canadian geese, and Barrow's goldeneyes (a medium-sized diving duck). Look for the log bench near the trees. Return to the trailhead following the same route.
Location: 44.3618445, -110.5499268
Location: 44.358408, -110.5814266
Location: 44.365158, -110.557909
Location: 44.3646672, -110.5572224
Location: 44.3600342, -110.5427599