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Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail [CLOSED]

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Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail is a 1.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

Distance: 1.7 miles Elevation Gain: 200 feet Route Type: Loop

kid friendly


nature trips


bird watching




wild flowers



no dogs

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information.

6 days ago

some of the lake is steaming from the underground volcano

7 months ago

Encountered an elk right at the beginning of the trail and then saw a bunch of elk in the meadow. The view from the top was beautiful

8 months ago

In heavily wooded areas make sure to have bear spray. The view at the top is excellent. I didn't find the trail difficult. There are a few inclines. Saw a few elk, no bears.

10 months ago

Pretty easy trail to hike, even with the hill climb to the overlook. Saw a whole family of elk around the hill n climb. Views from the top were absolutely worth it, you can see a good portion of the lake and a good bit of mountains around the area.

10 months ago

Relatively short and easy with a rewarding view. The hill is just hard enough to get your heart pumping but not very difficult.

Pretty short walk, not a bad thing to say about it

10 months ago

Great hike! I have bad knees but was able to make the complete loop. It was well worth the effort. The elk were everywhere.

11 months ago

easy hike, great for kids.

Sat May 18 2019

Amazing view of the whole lake and mountains in the distance! Right now there is snow on much of the bottom half of the hike which made it a fun challenge with added risk of falling knee deep sometimes. Did the hike with 6 other friends and we were probably the first to do it this season (no footprints to follow). There is a sign warning of bear activity at the start and we did find bear prints on the trail. Walking as a group or carrying bear spray is the best option.

Wed Feb 27 2019

Beautiful but very crowded in June.

Fri Sep 28 2018

Hiked trail mid sept’18. Easily accessible from west thumb parking area and across main park road. Offers nice view of Yellowstone lake from high point. Proceeded with caution due to bear warning signs and scat and was relieved to be joined by another hiking couple for what was a pleasant 90 min 2 mile hike through meadow and light forest with mild hills. Lots of room up top for a snack and pictures.

Sat Sep 15 2018


Tue Jul 31 2018

Quick little 45 minute hike with a nice view

Tue Jul 17 2018

Hidden gym! One of my favorites in Yellowstone! Easy trail and Beautiful!

Wed Jul 04 2018

This is a quick, pleasant hike with great views of the lake. You start from the West Thumb parking lot and walk through a flat section of the forest on a wide trail. Then you cross the road and proceed through more forest before heading up the hill. The hill area is unshaded and where you get the views of the lake. At the top there's a bench. There's a sign posted saying a bear's been spotted frequenting the area, but I didn't see it nor any scat or prints. I did see a fox on the hilltop, a deer in the forest, and a couple small snakes. This trail is rated moderate, but I'd say it's on the easy side of moderate. The climb up the hill is steep near the end and a bit rocky, but nothing too difficult. This is a good short hike if you want to get away from the crowds. I only saw 2 other people on the trail near the entrance/exit, which is remarkable given it leaves right from West Thumb. Be prepared to deal with crowds in the parking lot, but you'll probably have the trail to yourself.

Wed Jun 13 2018

Hiked in early June. Mother elk with calf at trail head, herd near summit, and had to double back and take the road in due to more elk in the trail coming back in. Signs posted for bear sightings, and we were the only people on the hike despite the parking lot being full. Be prepared for wildlife!

Thu Mar 22 2018

Quick easy hike was crowded when I was there but cool place to see nice breaking up a big morning and afternoon hike with a quick visit here

Mon Aug 14 2017

Awesome hike! Decent climb to the overlook! We even saw a couple elk right off the path! I walked by one and didn't see it! Kids are 4,7, and 8 and had no issues. We called this an easy trail as the kids all made it with no issues. There are a few narrow beams to walk across that may be an issue if you need more support in walking.

Tue Jul 04 2017

Great place for a picnic. Not super crowded, even on a busy summer weekend. Amazing views of the lake. A couple of steep parts, but not unreasonable. Beautiful, maintained trail!

Tue Jun 20 2017

Great short hike with nice payoff. The trailhead is near the West Thumb parking lot. It is pretty clearly marked but the AllTrails version is off a bit near the overlook. Amazing you can have 1,000 people in the parking lot but almost none do the hikes.

Wed Jun 07 2017

The view is excellent and there is even a bubbling hot spring near the top. You walk through young lodgepole forest until breaking out into open "pasture" nearer the overlook. But the app is not showing the correct route, which can be confusing. The hike is more than 1.2 miles and the climb is about 200 feet.

Thu Jun 01 2017

You can drive up to the over look or hike, it was a complete panorama of the lake. Amazing view. You can also see a lot of the fire damage from the huge forest fire in the 1980s.

Sun Sep 11 2016

Dense new growth forest in the beginning and end. Very nice views at the top.

Sun Jul 17 2016

Went here with family years ago and loved it! Amazing views of the lake!

Sun Jul 17 2016

I gave this a 5 star not just because the view is awesome but my son proposed to his now fiance when we all got to the top. It was a beautiful day!

Tue May 24 2016

We did this trail on a whim … we had a week of terrible weather and had to get up and down in-between snow squalls. It was cold and windy, but well worth it. Nice hiking up and down; the skies cleared just enough to give us great views at the top. Two young elk (one banded) were grazing on our way up and resting on our way down. Short and not-too-strenuous. Possibly more enjoyable than the walk around the West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Sat Aug 15 2015

Absolutely Stunning!!! Make every stop possible in Yellowstone, you won't regret it.

Sun Aug 10 2014

Starts off nicely as you cross over highway from West Thumb Basin Parking Lot. Nice dense forest of spruces and pines with a few open meadows which offered great close up viewing of elk in the area. Trail then opens up with a nice walk to the overlook point. Encountered lots of elk and bugling calls along the way here. Near the top of overlook, you can tell there is a lot of underground thermal activity as steam is billowing up from several small holes in the area along with some gurgling. Great view of Yellowstone lake and the Absaroka Mountains in the east. Can also see Duck Lake which is a hike I had just made prior to this one. There is another route down from the overlook which I highly recommend as this is where we encountered many elk that were on our path but could have cared less about us. Many photo opportunities. If you have about an hour and a half, this is a perfect hike in all regards.

Fri Aug 08 2014

Decent hike and relatively quiet.

Thu Jan 12 2012

Beautiful. Just go and experience it yourself.

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