Heart Lake Trailhead
A short drive just off the main road brings you to the trailhead parking area complete with restroom and trash canisters. Heart Lake trail is 7.4 miles and takes you the northeastern part of Heart Lake, one of the most pristine and secluded lakes in all of Yellowstone National Park. It is also one of the most popular day hikes for hikers, and for backpackers it is a popular site for overnight camping at one of the primitive backcountry campsites along the lake.
The beginning of the trail takes you through dense lodgepole pine forest and a few meadows. At 4.3 miles you pass through Witch Creek and come to the elevated vantage point of Factory Hill and some long-range views of Heart Lake and surrounding mountain peaks including Mount Sheridan. As you begin the gradual decent towards the lake there are geothermal features along Witch Creek in an area known as Heart Lake Geyser Basin. As you continue your downward trek to the lake you will pass through a wooded section. When you near the lake you will pass by the Heart Lake Patrol Cabin originally constructed in 1924, and on to the lake completing your 7.4-mile hike. The trail continues along the lake’s entire western border where several overnight campsites are located.
An alternate trail, the Trail Creek Trail, branches off near the Witch Creek inlet to the lake and heads east before turning south and takes you to the southeast tip of the lake.
Fishing Heart Lake: This lake holds the Yellowstone Park record for the largest lake trout ever caught: 42-pounds of awesome fun at the end of that person’s line. The average size of trout in this lake is around 18-20 inches. Lake trout were introduced into the lake in the 1890s, and the lake also holds cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish, but these two species must be released if caught. This lake can only be fly fished or fished using artificial lures, and there is no limit on the number of lake trout that can be caught and kept. Caddis and mayflies are best for dry-fly fishing, and a streamer that imitates a small cutthroat for lake trout.