Still partially frozen in April.
Still partially frozen in April.

Trout Lake is one of our favorite summer destinations. Around early July, the cutthroat/rainbow trout hybrids spawn up the inlet creek, with their backs and fins sticking out of the creek. The otters that call Trout Lake home, gather around whenever they need a snack.

young otters playing on trailWe usually end up at Trout Lake around Independence Day holiday. Friends and family are in town and this is a great way to wow them with scenery, wildlife, and a super short (though steep) hike.

Heather had never been to Trout Lake, so we decided to check it out in April. We didn’t see otters or trout, but we did get bison and sunshine.

Trailhead: On the northeast park entrance road west of Pebble Creek campground

Distance: About 0.5 mile one way

Difficulty: The trail is quite steep, but it is so short that almost anyone can make it.

Trail description: The short, steep trail switchbacks up the side of a hill through open sagebrush steppe, wildflowers and forested pockets.

What you’ll see: A beautiful lake nestled in a meadow at the base of Mt. Hornaday. If you visit in June you’ll see hundreds of cutthroat trout spawning in just inches of water in the inlet.