The Lewis River Channel/Dogshead Loop trail is a very scenic day hike to the biggest backcountry lake in the lower 48 states that can't be reached by a road. The trail travels through burned an unburned forest to the shore of Lewis Lake then follows the banks of the Lewis River Channel all the way to the shore of Shoshone Lake and the Shoshone Lake Patrol Cabin.
The Lewis River Channel is a popular route for kayakers and canoeists to get from Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake and it's many boat accessible campsites. It also has great fishing and anglers are common along the channel. Don't forget this is bear country as well, so it is advised that the guidelines for hiking in bear country are strictly followed.
The Lewis River Channel/Dogshead Loop trailhead (44.320267,-110.598502) is located on Yellowstone's south entrance road U.S. 89/191 approximately 5.2 miles south of the Grant Village turn off or 14.25 miles north of Yellowstone's south entrance. The trailhead parking lot is located on the west side of the road.
Directions from Jackson Hole, WY
Directions from Cody, WY
Directions from West Yellowstone, MT
You must pay the $25 entrance fee or have an America the Beautiful Annual Pass to enter Yellowstone National Park. The $25 entrance fee is good for 7 days.
From the trailhead the hike starts by heading slightly northwest through burned and unburned forest on flat terrain for .80 mile until you reach a creek crossing. (44.326812,-110.613851) This creek can be dry. After the crossing turn left and follow the trail south, the trail stays flat and after approximately .75 mile the trail reaches the shore of Lewis Lake. From the shore the hike continues west then cuts back into the forest until you reach the Lewis River Channel. (44.31845,-110.640822) From this point the trail proceeds north, follows the bank of the river and becomes more up and down gaining and losing elevation the entire way to Shoshone Lake. Along the way the trail crosses through several small drainages that contain Sedge Grass and the grass makes a great afternoon resting spot for Grizzlies, so stay alert and carry bear spray.
At the 6.5 mile mark the trail reaches a junction (44.358853,-110.661974) take a right to continue back to the main trailhead or take a left to cross the river and head towards the Shoshone Geyser Basin. If taking a right go .20 miles to yet another junction, take a right here to go back to the main trailhead or a left to Shoshone Lake Patrol Cabin, Campsite 8S1 and DeLacy Creek trailhead. Before continuing to the trailhead follow the trail left towards the patrol cabin to take a break, check out the patrol cabin and relax in the shade on the shore of Shoshone Lake before the 4.7 mile journey back. To get back, follow the Dogshead trail through heavily burned forest southeast towards the trailhead climbing in elevation several times and passing several small lakes. At approximately 3.3 miles from the junction, another creek is crossed. (44.331669,-110.613815) After the creek crossing the single track trail flattens out and follows what used to be an old service road back to the trailhead.
This hike can be turned into a short overnighter by staying at campsite 8S1. If a long overnighter is desired cross the river and stay at campsite 8M1 approximately 2.5 miles after the crossing. Campfires are not allowed at either site.
For trail conditions and closures you can contact the Yellowstone backcountry office at (307)-344-2160 or at the Grant Village visitor center (307)-344-2650
Permits & Regulations
There are no permits required for day hiking, but permits are required for overnight camping. For more information about permits and backcountry regulations, please visit the Yellowstone Backcountry Page. Please follow all the Park Rules & Regulations.
Relevant Books & Maps
Hiking Yellowstone National Park by Bill Schneider
Trails Illustrated Map #201 Yellowstone by National Geographic