Elk Lake

5/5 (6 reviews)
West Yellowstone, Montana (Beaverhead County)
Last Updated: 09/18/2022
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Trail Information

Highlights

Elk Lake is one of those out of the way mountain lakes that many of us know for great fishing and some old school social distancing. Hidden Lake and Elk Lake below are both spring-fed with crystal clear waters. Whether you're planning a wedding at Elk Lake Resort or want to escape the crowds and enjoy some fishing at these remote lakes, this trail has something for you. The first part of this trail is located in the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. This area is popular for birders and photographers wanting to photograph the once nearly extinct Trumpeter Swans. The remaining half of this trail is in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, the largest national forest in Montana, covering 3.35 million acres.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Trail Reviews

5/5 (6 reviews)
Cory W
Official Crew
26500
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 06/18/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

The snow on the mountains and flower covered fields made for a beautiful drive. We hiked to Hidden Lake and caught a couple of nice rainbows, but left early due to the incredible amount of flying insects. The trail is is a bit more rutted than previous years, but still easily passable.
Trail Review: Elk Lake - Cory W
Trail Review: Elk Lake - Cory W
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Cory W
Official Crew
26500
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/03/2021

We took a drive to view the changing colors in the Red Rock Lakes area and the surrounding mountains, then up to Elk and Hidden Lake to check out the aftermath of the Goose Fire. It was a beautiful day, so we hiked the loop trail on the southwest side of Hidden Lake. The fire was hit and miss, but the majority of the Hidden Lake Campground burnt. Be cautious if you decide to hike or travel this trail on a windy day: there are quite a few leaning and burnt trees that could come down at any time. The road itself hadn't changed and its still a pretty drive. Plus, we saw eight deer on our hike and drive between Elk and Hidden Lakes.
Trail Review: Elk Lake - Cory W
Trail Review: Elk Lake - Cory W
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Cory W
Official Crew
26500
Status: Open
Visited: 09/14/2021

The Goose Fire area closure order was rescinded on October 7th, allowing the reopening of the following trails: Cliff Lake Bench Conklin Lake East Bench Elk Lake Jackknife Jackpine Gulch South Bench The condition of the affected trails is unknown and will be updated soon.
Cory W
Official Crew
26500
Status: Temporary Closure
Rated 5/5
Visited: 07/24/2021

We made a loop around the Goose Fire, hoping to watch the air tankers or helicopters working the fire, but were unable to find a clear vantage point. We did see a moose and calf for the first time in many years, which was great! A fire camp was set up just past Waypoint 5, so we didn't try to go any further. Instead, we headed west on North Valley Road to Gravely Range Drive and went back into the Madison River Valley by way of Johnny Ridge. It was a great trip. In total, we saw three does, a buck, the moose and calf, a few small groups of pronghorn antelope, and a flock of sheep. The grass is still nice and green high on the mountains, with butterflies, wildflowers... and deer flies. Unfortunately, our lunch spot was short-lived.
Trail Review: Elk Lake - Cory W
Trail Review: Elk Lake - Cory W
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Cory W
Official Crew
26500
Status: Temporary Closure
Rated 5/5
Visited: 07/11/2021

Due to the Goose Fire, the following trails have been temporarily closed: Conklin Lake Elk Lake Road beyond Elk Lake to Hidden Lake is closed Jackpine Gulch Jackknife Cliff Lake Bench South Bench East Bench EDIT: Updated closure map July 16, 2021 Currently, the West Fork Madison River is the edge of the closure area. More info on the closure can be found here: Goose Fire Closure Order
Trail Review: Elk Lake - Cory W

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