Emerald Lake Trail

MODERATE 50 reviews
#12 of 89 trails in

Emerald Lake Trail is a 8.9 mile moderately 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 March until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
8.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,850 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

camping
4 days ago

As other reviewers have stated, this is a gradual steady climb to the top (meaning completely downhill on the way out). The trail was moderately crowded with hikers and dogs. The bugs were insane--flies and mosquitos all over the shore of Emerald Lake. Fishing was great, lots of grayling and cutthroat. We camped near the lake and were disappointed to have multiple groups walk through our camp between 8 and 9 PM. There were probably close to 10 different groups camping that night (Saturday 7/14) and one camp stayed up drinking and yelling until after midnight. The only plus to that was that because I was awake, I left the tent to use the bathroom and caught an amazing star show around 1 AM. Would not camp here again, but I would likely hike the trail up and back for some good exercise.

backpacking
11 days ago

This is one of my favorite hikes within 30 minutes of Bozeman! You can expect a gradual, steady climb on a wide trail that winds through thick trees the majority of the way up. You’ll also get a few opportunities to admire the canyon walls towering above you as you make your way up. There is also a beautiful section that runs through a small open area next to a creek. Once you near Emerald Lake, you’ll start to enter a few larger meadows. When you reach Emerald lake, you’ll have a great view of the peaks and plenty of spots for a picnic or camping.

If Emerald lake is too crowded, continue up the west side of the lake through yet another beautiful meadow. The trail takes you one mile further to Heather lake. It is slightly smaller and has more bugs, but will likely be less crowded. There was still quite a bit of snow to go through to get to Heather Lake, last weekend, but it was manageable as long as you have a general idea of where the lake is.

fishing
27 days ago

Took my 9-year-old this past weekend and got to the top! The trail was still snowed over in some places and we had to follow the tracks from previous hikers. Due to the cold and windy conditions, we only stayed for about an hour but still caught four Grayling! Brought back a lot of memories of going up there when I was a kid.

hiking
1 month ago

I fell a couple miles short of the lake before I turned around (talked to others at the trailhead who did the same) there's still a considerable amount of snow/it was too deep for me. Wear boots, the way up is gorgeous and challenging for hikers wanting to get into better shape!

hiking
1 month ago

Great views at the lake, but getting up was sorta difficult due to the trail being snowed over, but if you follow the creek, you'll find it, very worth it (btw went on June 8 was still snowy)

hiking
10 months ago

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Awesome trail, heck of a workout and well worth it!

hiking
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Steady hike. Tons of mosquitoes!

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Lots of mosquitoes at the top so bring bug spray, but overall one of my most favorite hikes!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Full of snow right now. At least 7 miles are covered by multiple feet of snow. Lake is still frozen too. Gorgeous mountain views on the way.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Great trail! Will definitely go back when it's warmer and a little less snow. RT can be done in less than 4 hours with a decent pace. Great views!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Beautiful trail! Had to trek through snow the whole way but so worth it! Would love to do this hike again and see it without the snow. Incline is spread out the whole hike so it makes it easily doable. I am a novice hiker and this trail was easy to me. Loved!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

beautiful trail! although it is longer than 7 miles, we went to heather lake and the trail roud trip was 12 miles.

hiking
Monday, August 15, 2016

The trail runs along the creek, it's mostly shady with wildflowers, butterflies, woodpeckers, and berries. It starts covered in pine needles and gets progressively more dusty as you climb. The trail gains elevation slowly and switchbacks are moderate. The lake was clear and cold. I'm looking forward to hiking this trail again.

hiking
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Out of some of the most popular hikes around the Hyalite Reservoir, this is the easiest. It's a moderate hike with roughly 2,000 feet of elevation gain, but that gain is nicely spread out over 5.5 miles. This site will give you more details and photos: www.montanatrailbriefs.com/hikes/emerald-and-heather-lakes

hiking
Thursday, August 04, 2016

Absolutely beautiful! Not too difficult but a good workout for me! Great for my dogs, creeks & small water falls all along the way. Almost entirely shaded but did open up a couple of times into breathtaking meadows full of wildflowers. It wasn't too busy on the day I went, I think I encountered maybe 20 or so people the whole day. Hikers, mountain bikers, a few motor-cross bikers as well, all were very considerate trail users. I can't wait to do this one again and stay the night!

hiking
Sunday, July 24, 2016

Great hike that only has a couple of steepish areas. Trail is pretty dusty, but the lakes are well worth the trip. Easier than the Hyalite Peak trail for sure, but still offers nice terrain.

hiking
Sunday, June 19, 2016

Starts out easier and gets more intense before it shallowing out again near the lake. Views are spectacular... I'm not in shape at all and completed the hike in and back out in about 4 1/2hrs... (With picture stops along the way)

hiking
Saturday, July 04, 2015

Gorgeous day!! Dusty but beautiful. All those on the trail were very kind and courteous.

hiking
Sunday, August 03, 2014

Nice hike. Straight forward. Start early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Flowers at peak. Beautiful alpine meadows. Worth spending a night or two at one of the lakes. Views open up as one begins a somewhat steeper climb after an hour on trail. Fish early AM or in the evening. Cut throats rising on Heather. Fair number of folks on trail including a dozen or so mtn bikers. and 2 motorcycles. Loud and obnoxious to say the least. This is a Trail Timeshare open to motor cycles July 16 to Sept 4. Closed to motorized on Sunday and Monday only. Google the Gallatin NF Timeshare website before you go if you don't want motorzied intrusions on your hike.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

would get 5 stars if not for the people. incredible place, and a chance to catch a grayling.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I hiked up with two friends in late August, to enjoy a day in the woods and see if we could catch some fish. The hike is a fairly steady ascent all the way to the lake, with the creek usually distant and hidden from the trail. There are some highlights along the way, from waterfalls to meadows to craggy peaks overhead. We only saw a few other people on the way up, and met some campers at Emerald Lake. After a brief lunch and some time spent attempting to coax the fish up with a dry fly, we were forced to head down in the midst of a heavy rain and thunderstorm. It's a mixed-use trail, so we did have to make way for some friendly mountain bikers. Since I had just flown in from Washington, the elevation was an issue, as the lake is a little short of 10,00o feet (I think). But the beauty of the area made all the effort worthwhile.

hiking
14 days ago

hiking
22 days ago

hiking
28 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

skiing
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

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