Hiking Duck Lake in Yellowstone National Park, WY

Duck Lake is a beautiful trail nestled just off the West Thumb Geyser Basin. It’s a small paradise for the hiker that wants to find a little solitude closer to the road. It’s a cool hike to a small lake and it’s great for a morning stroll or a late afternoon, a last-ditch chance at a hike before you leave the park through the south entrance. Since it sits right next to the oceanic Lake Yellowstone, this hike is often overlooked, so the chances of being alone on the hike are high. Let’s get to some beta!

Quick Beta

  • Mileage: 1.0 miles.
  • Elevation gain: 160 ft.
  • Highest Point: 7,902 ft.
  • Best time to visit: Late May through mid-October
  • Total hiking time: 30-40 minutes.
  • Kid-friendly: Yes.
  • Dog-friendly: No.
  • Gear I brought: Backpack with water, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, camera, knife, and first aid kit.

The hike

The hike is very gentle. Park in the West Thumb Geyser Basin parking lot and head towards the north end of the lot. Here, you’ll see the trail start. Cross the road to he above sign! This hike slowly treks upwards to a small view of the lake, and then descends into the basin the lake is held in. Tall trees guard the trail and make for a beautiful hike.

The trail is well-defined and easy to follow!
Keep following the signs to the lakeshore!
The pines start to loosen up and shorten up as you approach the shore.

Need to Know

You are in bear country.

Remember to keep a clean trail. Always pack it in, and pack it out. If you see a bear, make yourself large and shout! Gather any small children near you to help yourself appear bigger and to prevent a bear from singling them out and isolating them. Take out your bear spray and prepare to use if necessary.

Please adhere to the wildlife safety rules. Stay at least 25 yards away from bison, moose, elk, deer, pronghorn, and other non-carnivorous animals. Stay away at least 100 yards away from bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, cougars, and other carnivorous animals. It’s for your safety and theirs!

This is one of the shortest hikes you can do in Yellowstone that doesn’t receive much traction. While on the trail, we bumped into one woman and another woman already at the lake. That was it! You’ll be alone on this trail, so make sure you hike in good weather and always have a rescue plan, no matter how long or short the hike is!

Your first view of the lake!
Beautiful Duck Lake in gorgeous sunshine. It could not have been a better day!

Justin’s Suggestion

If you’re going to be doing the West Thumb Geyser Basin, this is such an easy add-on to your day! You can park in the same lot and walk from one end to the other with ease. Mercedes and I did the basin and the hike on the same day (we stayed in Grant Village tent sites), so it was easy for us to have a fast morning and feel accomplished. Tack it on, add another lake to your checklist, and explore the beauty of Yellowstone!

Mercedes admiring the lake!
Better in the mountains. I love them!

Take A Hike!

This is a short hike to a pretty lake and it’s worth it to escape the crowds, if only for a little bit. Tack it on as you explore the West Thumb Geyser Basin! Also in the general area is the Yellowstone Lake Cruise and the Grant General Store. The general store has some awesome souvenirs – Mercedes and I each purchased mugs there – we love them so much and use them all the time! I also got a few bottles of wine that are sold exclusively in Yellowstone. If you’re making your way east from the Geyser Basin, make sure to hike the Natural Bridge trail and check out Lehardys Rapids! If you’re heading west, check out the scenic viewpoints and Continental Divide, and stop by Biscuit Basin or Black Sands Basin for some less-traveled geothermal sights!

See you on the next one!

Parting shot:

Next blog: West Thumb Geyser Basin.

3 thoughts on “Hiking Duck Lake in Yellowstone National Park, WY

    1. Totally agreed! There’s so much to do here, it’s a treasure trove! I think a lot of the shorter hikes get overshadowed here since there are so many longer hikes, geothermal sites, and water sports/activities to do. There’s seriously something for everybody here!

      Liked by 1 person

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