Explore Summer 2017 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Summer 2017 Map

Made this hike on a weekday in August 2000 (5 stars) and then again on a weekend in 2016 (4 stars). I would not do it again on a weekend due to the heavy trail use.
The moderate hike is very tolerable due to the shade. My legs grew more tired from the descent than the climb.
If you like wildlife, golden mantled ground squirrels and american pika are around when it's quiet. It was a lot of fun to watch them. The lake is gorgeous with the talus slopes and peaks in the distance.

25 days ago

Burnt out forest trail with no shade until close to Passage Falls. The wind whistles over the pass and its distant sound is a bit otherworldly, was neat! My 7 year old son was able to hike this with me and tolerated it well, with just one rest on the way in for nourishment and to cool down (August 2016). Only one spot on the descent to the falls where I was concerned about my son being able to navigate the path, but he was fine with a hand to keep him balanced. The waterfall at the end was really very nice, a good day hike. Suggest taking a small picnic to pack in and out. There were quite a few people trekking in on this particular Friday. Maybe try midweek and early morning to maximize your experience.

If going in the winter time you will want some sort of micro spikes or yak traks. Very packed trail that can be basically a solid sheet of ice. Beautiful to see in the winter.

Absolutely beautiful hike, giant boulders moss covered trees! Hot during the day, but absolutely freezing at night, especially the camping sites near the water. Great camp spot!

Beautiful hike. Easy pace with a nice mix of flat and climb. Snow on last 20 minutes of climb made it very challenging. Trail was busy when I started at noon so compacted snow was very slippery especially on the decent. Personally witnessed two slips/falls.

4 months ago

Bring bear spray! Had a grizzly bear encounter at 1am on the morning of 10/17 (Bear circled our tent for an hour and a half). Hike up isn't bad, it's steep and the back half was frozen with snow. Once at the top the view of the lake is beautiful. Coming back down the trail the steeper sections of the the trail that are iced were hard to get down. All in all a nice trail but bring bear spray as the grizzly there is massive and isn't afraid to get up close and personal.

4 months ago

Large grizzly entered campsite late at night, bring bear spray. If camping, be careful about where you cook. Last 1/3 of the trail was iced over and very slippery in the morning. Beautiful scenery at the lake, definitely worth the hike.

4 months ago

Lake is frozen over as of 10/15/17. Drive up wasn't bad but there are no signs until the top and might need 4wd in certain spots.

Very rocky approach, great tent spots on the right side of the lake before the peninsula. No campfires allowed within half mile of the lake. No accumulated snow at the lake yet (9/30/17)

The hike was definitely harder than I thought it would be. I consider myself fairly in shape but was dripping sweat most the way up. Was relieved to find some snow toward the top to help cool me off..finally got to the lake and it was absolutely beautiful. Very well worth the hike!!!

This is a beautiful Hike. We went there near the end of August, and there were only a few muddy spots on the trail. We concentrated on the first 4 waterfalls on the trail, so we didn't make it all the way up to the lake. Next time we will likely skip the falls and head to the lake.

If you're pressed for time, I'd recommend skipping Silken Skein Falls. It is very pretty but it's smaller and it takes a bit to get there. Spend time at Champagne Falls. You can leave the trail and walk up the creek, and spend time at the base of the falls.

Note that the last ~1/2 mile of the trail going back is not the same as the one going in. We had passed the loop to Grotto Falls and started realizing the landmarks were different. But it gets you back to the parking lot just the same.

The reviews were accurate for this one, "Moderate" and "Worth it." We hiked 8 miles before doing this hike (not recommended before this specific trail) so it was fairly hard but I think we would have been okay otherwise. The stream that runs along near the trail is pretty and the grade gets a little tricky. Most of the incline is near the end though. Then you see this gorgeous lake!

(With the current wildfires, you may want to check air quality depending on how clear of a view you want up there.)

Very rocky path that doesn't clear up until the end. Beautiful lake at the end.

Beautiful hike. Loved the reward of a peaceful lake at the end!

6 months ago

Beautiful, well maintained trail. Emerald Lake was gorgeous. Would do it again...

This is a pretty intense hike with all the rocks but totally worth it at the top. Weekends are busy and crowded.

6 months ago

The first 1/3 is fairly steep but not bad. The second 1/3 is flat and has a good view, and the last third to the lake is slightly steep but downhill. The road is rough but passable. I was able to make it there in Subaru Impreza AWD and only scrapped 2-4 times.

This is a 6 mile hike took 2:30 hours up and about 1:45 down. It's a great hike make sure to cool your feet at the top and the bottom

Beautiful trail by running water and then a great payoff at end with a stunning lake

This trail took us by surprise - It's actually 6 miles in total, with 1600ft of elevation change each way. We had a mixed group skill level wise - but it was worth every earned step! We made sure each person made it up by taking breaks throughout the accent. The lake is absolutely PRICELESS - super peaceful, super relaxing. I would recommend spending at least a few hours at the top - coming back down is a cake walk though, all downhill!

Great hike! Lake was super beautiful. Headed out early to avoid traffic. Lots of people on the way down. Ran into some old friends, which was a great surprise!

Tight, muddy trail in portions where bushes are over growing the trail. Not overly trafficked on a Tuesday morning. Nice pay off at the end when you reach the falls! When you get about 1.6 miles in, you'll see a bridge. Ignore it and go straight, up the hill and you'll see a clearing with a cabin soon. Then, you'll be about .2 away from the falls.

Should be called Berry Trail! Thimbleberries, raspberries and choke cherries. Not a good hike to do on a hot day, no cover. Burned out area. You can hear the wind howling through the dead trees. Beautiful falls, we hiked the top trail. The trail that went to the bottom was slippery sand. Worthwhile trail.

mountain biking
7 months ago

Worth exploring. Since I biked it I didn't take many of the turn offs to see waterfalls. Trail is very rocky at parts, probably much better trails to MTN Bike in hyalite canyon and around bozeman.

A beautiful trail that seemed to be about 60% rocky and 40% compacted dirt. The grade wasn't awful, just a steady incline from bottom to top. We hiked the trail with kids ranging from 9 to 15.

The lake at the top is a great payoff and made the hike well worth it. I would guess the lake is about a half mile in length and 200 yards wide. There is a nice little beach on the east side of the lake about 1/3 of the way down that made for a great swimming spot for the kids. They said the water was brisk but not near as cold as the Gallatin River at the trailhead.

A moderately challenging hike, steep in sections and the path is rocky in quite a few places. The reward at the end of the trail is magnificent however. The lake is picturesque and a fabulous place to gaze at the beauty of the Montana landscape. There are a few small streams on the way up we used to refresh and water ourselves. We worked quite hard and made it to the lake in around 1 1/2 hours. I would recommend taking it slower however...pace yourself!

Well worth the hike to the lake. Trail head under renovation so be careful with signs. Splits at Grotto falls trail and heads uphill to the right.

nice trail, very few people on trail. The trail is a little bit more strenous the we were expecting, but the payoff is worth it the vuees of the lake are spectacular.

The lake itself was very beautiful, a reward after a long uphill hike with dense forest and limited views aside from passing over a couple pretty creeks. Nice hike, but have liked others around the area much better.

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