Lost Lake hike is a short hike in the Tower/Roosevelt section of the park that can be done as an out-an-back, or ideally as a shuttle if you have someone to move the car. The Lost Lake hike takes you from Roosevelt Junction to the Petrified Tree, both of which have ample parking.
We started behind the Roosevelt Store and climbed steadily up the hill for about 3/4 of a mile. The trail zig-zags back and forth through a series of switchbacks as you climb to the top. This can be a bit of a problem if you’re out of shape, but our youngsters did just fine. At the top of the rise, the trail splits and goes right or left. There is a sign that says the left fork goes to a waterfall (maybe Tower Falls?) and the right goes to Lost Lake. The lake comes in to view almost immediately as you take the fork to the right.
We walked to the far end of the lake hoping to spot a beaver or otter, but there wasn’t much going on in the middle of the afternoon. Still, the kids got to throw a few rocks into the water, which makes every hike a success.
This pretty little lake held a few waterfowl, and we found evidence of beavers and elk as well. This is also bear country, so be wise when hiking here. In fact, we turned around and hiked back to Roosevelt, but the shorter route would’ve been straight past the lake and around to the Petrified Tree. When we drove to the Petrified Tree an hour later, a black bear and her cub were about 50 yards down the trail to Lost Lake! We would have had to come right past her to get to the Petrified Tree.
I think the best scenario for this hike would be to have someone drop you off at the Petrified Tree. At the far end of the parking lot a small trail winds down around the hill to Lost Lake (there is a sign pointing the way). It is not far to the lake, around a half mile, and then you could drop down into Roosevelt and be picked up there, thus avoiding the climb and retracing your steps like we did.
We really liked this hike, and it gives you several options on how to complete it. To check out our other kid friendly hikes in Yellowstone National Park, click here. To read about finding animals in Yellowstone, click here. And to read about Yellowstone’s geothermal features, click here.