Emerald Lake and Heather Lake Trail is a 10.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bozeman, Montana that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Length10.5 miElevation gain2,165 ftRoute typeOut & back
BackpackingCampingFishingHikingHorseback ridingMountain bikingNature tripsDog friendlyForestLakeRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersBugs
Description
Waypoints (1)

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (198)
Photos (237)
Activities (153)
Completed (444)
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Elizabeth F
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 13, 2020
HikingSnow

Snow on the trail but beautiful views the whole way up. We stopped at the first lake because of severe wind conditions, but the views on the way and at the first lake were more than worth it- this was about an 8 mile round trip hike if you don’t go to the second lake

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Lainey Colglazier
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 6, 2020
Hiking

Road to get to the trailhead is super rough, but if your car can pull through it is worth it. Both summits are beautiful, and the trail itself is gorgeous this time of season. There was a little bit of snow on the trail, but left it mostly unaffected except for some mud in between emerald and heather lakes. Elevation gain was gradual on the trail with multiple switch backs to accommodate.

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Qian Wang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 4, 2020
Hiking

Great trial! Love it!

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Linda Thompson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 1, 2020
Hiking

This hike doesn’t disappoint. One of my favorites in the Bozeman area. Trail is in good shape. Snow and ice in places between Emerald and Heather lakes.

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Jeremiah Howard-Crowley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 27, 2020
HikingGreat!

Super fun trail, especially if you go later in the afternoon. You can get the trail pretty much to yourself. Great for dogs. Just a heads up, there is snow at the lakes right now. There was about an inch at Heather, a little less at Emerald.

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Dylan Epstein
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 13, 2020
Hiking

This is a great moderate hike with amazing scenery, and a beautiful lake at the top of the hike!

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Matthew Grobe
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 12, 2020
HikingGreat!
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Sarah Keddell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 12, 2020

We hit no traffic when arriving at 8 am on Friday, but did have to drive carefully because of some big ditches in the dirt road. The trail was, for the most part, more gradual than some other local hikes, and still frozen in some spots during the morning about 3.5 miles in. There was a bear on the road on the way back so definitely keep an eye out in the woods. Both lakes are absolutely stunning, and worth the effort if you have time and strength for it.

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Stephanie Drager
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 6, 2020

**contruction!!!** there is a light set up on a 20 minute timer on the road right before you get to the trail head, so be prepared to wait around for a while. the workers are really nice though. nice trail. i thought emerald lake was more inviting than heather. heather had a nicer view but ill spend more time at emerald next time i go up.

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Quincy Rozeff
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 5, 2020
Hiking

Chill vibes

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gary dunn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 29, 2020
Hiking
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Corey Leamon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 24, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

Maybe I got lucky, but I dealt with not a single motorcycle. The trail is very nice (except for the aforementioned bags of dog poop...) and consists of exposed rock and root - only a couple miles is loose rock. Like the others have recommended, it is worth going to Heather, and all the way around it. In fact, heading up to the ridge line behind the lake was my favorite part of the trail due to the wildflowers and beautiful formations of the ridge. I didn't see any larger mammals, granted there were a couple signs of bears. There were quite a few people using the trail between 11-3p, but after that it seemed to clear out. One note about the road up to the trailhead as well. After Palisades it gets rough – 4WD would have zero issue but my FWD with lower bumper clearance was a bit slow going. Still doable!

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Mandy Walker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 22, 2020
Hiking
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Hillary Robb
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 14, 2020
Hiking
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Gina R
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 14, 2020
HikingGreat!
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Colton Schumacher
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2020
HikingGreat!

Great hike. Go early, no one on the trail.

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Ian Laird
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking

This is a great hike but the motorcycles are awful. I went on a day when motorcycles were not allowed to try and avoid them, but they were still there. While this hike is good, I would recommend lava lake instead since they are similar hikes, but lava lake doesn’t have various wheeled contraptions flying by you.

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Mark Elliott
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful trail, but why the hell are motorcycles allowed on it? Bicycles and horses, ok, but motorcycles? That's ridiculous. And dog walkers who leave poop bags on the side of the trail are disgusting. But the trail is spectacular, with an incredible abundance of wildflowers. Definitely go all the way to Heather Lake -- it's worth it.

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Chaz Fregien
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
Hiking
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sound User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 7, 2020
HikingBugs

Beautiful trail, bugs are particularly bad this year so bug spray is a must. Very busy however

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Peyton Rodriguez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2020
Hiking

WOW! Spectacular trail the whole way there! Make sure to go all the way to Heather, its amazing!

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Todd Spang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 2, 2020
Hiking

Great hike but no wildlife of any sort

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AllTrails User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2020
Hiking

Great hike early morning b4 flues and skeeters woke up. Gorgeous!!

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B Conrad
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 30, 2020
Hiking

Yes, you need bug spray but when it comes to wildflowers and great views, this hike delivers! I like how it is a cooler hike due to the creek, and you are in and out of shade. The elevation gain is moderate, not too steep. The road from Palisades Falls Trailhead to the Emerald Lake Trailhead is 1 mile long and bumpy with some deep ruts but our Subaru managed it OK.

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Alison Fitzpatrick
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 29, 2020
BackpackingBugs

MOSQUITOES!!!! Other than that, beautiful hike with gradual incline throughout. Caught in hail storm 10-11pm, check the weather! Lots of camping sites around the lake.

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Jennifer M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020
HikingBugs

Beautiful trail, filled with wildflowers along the way. It’s pretty steady uphill all the way to the lake. Emerald Lake is lovely, but very buggy, don’t forget bug spray if you want to hang out a while. Lots of mountain bikers and a few dirt bikers, everyone was great and shared the trail.

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Kara Tripp
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 24, 2020
Hiking

Gorgeous hike today. Steady and gradual incline. A truly moderate hike with lots of shade and beautiful scenery the entire way. Emerald lake is stunning and heather lake isn’t much further, worth the extra mile hike. The wildflowers were in full bloom, abundant and vibrant - wished we would have brought gear to stay the night.

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Heather Rolin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful trail! A bit busy on a Saturday, but weather was perfect so don’t blame anyone for hitting up this gem! If going on a weekend, plan for early morning to get a parking spot! Great trail for pets! Many people don’t make it to Emerald Lake and even less make the extra mile trek up to Heather, but would recommend both! Careful on the decent as there are plenty of loose rock and gravel. If you’ve got a day or two to kill, pack a tent or hammock and stay the night!

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Ephraim Mortenson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 17, 2020
HikingGreat!

Love this trail. We headed up around 5 pm and got up to the lake in abt an hour and a half (though we were booking it to get some of that evening fishing). We slept the night caught lots of grayling and even got 2 nicely sized cutthroats out of emerald. (We had no bites in heather, did not see any rises even.) The next day we scrambled up to overlook peak and then over to Mount Chisholm. We had CRAZY 360 views from here, but I would not recommend this scramble to anyone without true experience; there were several very dangerous parts, and I would never do it again. The normal hike is a 11/10 though.

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