Shoshone Lake is the largest body of water in the lower 48 states without a road to its shore. Without the aid of automobiles there are only two ways to access Shoshone Lake. Either navigate a hand-propelled watercraft from the nearby Lewis Lake and through the Lewis Channel into Shoshone Lake or hike in from the DeLacy Creek Trailhead.
This area is a popular backpacking destination — the full loop around Shoshone Lake runs over 23 miles and is usually completed over two or three days. From the Delacey Creek Trailhead, however, the lakeshore of Shoshone can be reached within 3 miles, creating a pleasant six-mile roundtrip hike. That leaves plenty of time to spend a full day at Shoshone Lake exploring the rocky beaches and soaking in the sun.
What Makes It Great
From the DeLacy Creek Trailhead the route gently descends to DeLacy Creek and then parallels the creek all the way to Shoshone Lake. Right before the lake the trail splits. To the left, the DeLacy Creek Trail continues along the eastern shore of Shoshone Lake. To the right, the Shoshone Lake trail dips onto a beach then climbs back into the forest and continues along Shoshone Lake’s north shore. If you have time, pick a trail and walk a little farther, ramble along the shoreline, or just sit down on the nearest rocky beach to enjoy the beautiful views.
The treasure of Shoshone Lake really is the lack of vehicles and the other amenities of most developed recreation sites. There’s nothing but forest, sky, and deep blue water stretching across 8,000 acres. Look for both bald eagles and osprey hunting for brown, brook, and lake trout. And while the trail is popular, it’s quite easy to re-establish lost solitude if another party encroaches on your spot — simply backtrack to one of the two trails and walk a bit farther or just amble down the shoreline and out of sight.
Who is Going to Love It
Those looking to get away from the roadside crowds on an easy-to-moderate length hike will love Shoshone Lake. The elevation only drops 200 feet in three miles from the trailhead to the lake. With such an easy hike out, feel free to expend your energy exploring the lake shore and surrounding area. As previously mentioned, it is recommended to spend a full day at Shoshone Lake. Hike to Shoshone Lake with your swimsuit in August when the mosquitoes are less lethal and the water temperature rises a few degrees.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From the West Thumb junction: Drive 8.4 miles west and park in the pullout on the north side of the road opposite the trailhead. Cross the highway carefully. Note: the trailhead sign says DeLacy Creek not Shoshone Lake. Parking is free with an Entrance Pass.
Fishing in Yellowstone National Park requires lead-free tackle and a valid Yellowstone National Park fishing permit. Please clean all waders, boots, boats, and other fishing equipment before entering the park to reduce the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species.