- Difficulty: Easy
- Time To Complete: 3.0 hours
- Distance: 6.6 miles
- Seasonality: Summer and Fall
- Fees/Permit: Yes
- Dog Friendly: No
- Destination Highlights: Backcountry hike, Wildflowers, Mountain Views
A peaceful lake in the midst of wildflower-filled meadows, with beautiful mountains as a backdrop.
You’ll experience a good variety of habitats as you meander along the trail to Grebe Lake. Regenerated forests from the 1988 fires, the Washburn mountain range, meadows ablaze with wildflowers and a tranquil lake are on tap for hikers.
What Makes It Great
The Grebe Lake trail is relatively flat and it’s a nice, short distance for inexperienced backpackers or day hikers. This is the perfect trail for first timers toting a pack or for those who are looking to break in some new gear. You can make this an out and back or tack on a trip to Cascade Lake and Observation Peak.
From the trailhead you’ll amble along through an open, sagebrush section for the first mile or so. Take a look at the trail itself – it’s actually an old fire road conveniently converted for boot use. The meadows run along the edge of a lodgepole pine forest. You might find a bison or two grazing along the path through this first mile of grassland. And there’s always the possibility of bears anywhere along the trail.
Once you leave the meadows, you’ll travel through regrowth from the massive 1988 fires that burned thirty percent of the park. See if you can spot any big old lodgepoles that might somehow have escaped the flames.
Soon you’ll pop out into the wetlands surrounding Grebe Lake – one of the last remaining enclaves in the park of the native Arctic Grayling fish. During the summer, you will be treated to some spectacular wildflower displays in these meadows. The mountains to the north are the Washburns, and hold one of the best lookouts in the park, Observation Peak. It is an additional 4.5 miles one-way to the fire lookout. But, if it’s early in the day and you are feeling energetic, the views are fantastic there as well.
There are four campsites here, one on the south side of the lake and the others on the north side if you would like to spend the night next to one of the more idyllic lakes in Yellowstone. Be forewarned that this is mosquito country until mid-August, so make sure you bring insect repellent.
Who is Going to Love It
If pounding mile after mile with a heavy pack doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, then you’ll love the ease and pace of the Grebe Lake trail. There’s hardly any elevation gain, so your huffing and puffing is from the 8100’ elevation. You’re just far enough from the car to feel away, but close enough to not feel abandoned.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Cody, take US HWY 14/16/20 west 52 miles to Yellowstone’s East Entrance. Continue for 27 miles over Sylvan Pass to the Fishing Bridge junction. Turn right onto the Grand Loop Road and drive 16 miles to Canyon. At Canyon turn left toward Norris. The trailhead is on the north (right) side just 3.5 miles from Canyon