Trout Lake in Yellowstone is a beautiful lake located near the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone. The lake has been known by several names over the years, including Fish Lake and Soda Butte Lake, but is now officially known as Trout Lake. The hike to the lake is about a half mile long, dirt, and very steep in a few spots, but a relatively easy trail. Small children can easily make the hike, and will thoroughly enjoy walking around the lake when they reach the top of the trail. A small parking area is available at the trail head on the north side of the road. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a place to park in the small parking lot as this is a popular trail and the parking area only holds about 8 vehicles.
Fishing in the lake is still allowed, but only as a catch and release sport. Most fisherman fish from the banks of the lake, but some will carry a small inflatable boat to get out in the middle of the lake to fish the deeper areas. If you want to fish via a small floating craft, be sure to get a permit.One prominent feature hikers will notice as they hike come over the last hill on the Trout Lake trail is the small footbridge near the outlet. This footbridge is a man made dam built in the early days of the park to make the lake deeper. Trout Lake was setup as a fish hatchery to help develop the park as a sporting destination. When Yellowstone was created only about half of its lakes, rivers and streams had fish. Fishing and hunting were allowed in the park until 1883 as a food source to feed early visitors to the park. Fish eggs of rainbow trout were transplanted from Trout Lake to other lakes and rivers in the park. Rainbow trout are not native to the lake, but can be seen swimming near the shore.
Bears frequent the area of Trout Lake, especially during spawning season. Bear squat and other markings are often found in the area. Other animals in the area include moose, deer, birds and wolves. Otter live in the lake and can be seen feeding on fish near the banks on a regular basis.
Mount Hornaday towers over the lake to the north. During wet seasons, a majestic waterfall can be seen falling over the cliffs of the mount. Rolling hills with douglas fir forest, wildflowers, and prairie grass surround the lake providing a majestic backcountry view only minutes from the main road. A leisure stroll around the lake is very relaxing and leads to the inlet of the lake where a small wooden bridge crosses the stream. In the spring it is possible to find spawning trout near the inlet of the lake, but always remember that where spawning fish are, bears are probably not far.
Trout Lake is a must for those who want to hike to a backcountry lake, but have very limited time in Yellowstone. Here is a link to a GPS trail map of Trout Lake.