Ice Lake Hike in Yellowstone

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Ice lake is quite stretches around further than we could see.
Ice lake is quite large…it stretches around further than we could see.

The Ice Lake hike is very short and flat. We did it with all the 9 cousins ages 2-9, and all but the infant walked the whole way. It is a simple out and back hike to a large lake in the central part of the park.


The trailhead for this hike is between Canyon and Norris near the Norris Junction. There is a pullout that accomodates several cars, and a bridge leading to the north into the trees where the trail starts. This trail winds through thick trees for .3 miles to the lake. The lake is surprisingly large, and shaped like a kidney bean, with much of the lake hidden out of sight. The trail is well marked and anyone can do this simple walk.

The trail starts here where you cross this boardwalk.
The trail is very flat and wide.

There is a split in the trail to Ice Lake, and the sign indicates that Ice Lake is both to the right and left. To take this short walk, go right. The longer hike to the left takes you around the lake or even beyond over to Little Gibbon Falls, but it is much farther. We debated for a long time and we are sure if you go left, you’ll see the lake, too. But we chose the right and it was the perfect short hike for the crowd we were with.

The sign...which way would you go?
The sign…which way would you go?

Toward the end of the trail, we were met by a nasty swarm of bugs, but they didn’t seem to bite. As we neared the lake, they seemed to thin out, so they weren’t much bother to us, but you may want to apply a little bug spray. When you arrive at the lake, the trees thin out and you can use your binoculars to scan the surface. The far shores are surprisingly distant, so don’t expect to see much across the water.

This is the campsite that is shown on the sign above. It didn’t look like too many people had camped there.
Just a little further you make it to the edge of the lake. All these kiddos hiked the whole thing.

We didn’t see much wildlife on this walk as the trees are so thick, but there were a few birds in the lake. We saw Western Grebes, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and Mergansers.


This is a great intro hike for those driving in the west entrance and heading over to stay at Canyon or Lake.

The lake stretches on for a long time.
Ice Lake is a pretty little stop. And we didn’t see any other hikers on this trail.

To read about other friendly kid hikes in Yellowstone, click here.

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