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Telluride, Colorado - OutdoorPlaces.Com
 Yellowstone National Park, Canyon Country, Wyoming, United States

Lily Pad Lake Trail
Clear Lake Trail
Hidden Thermal Area in Yellowstone Canyon Backcountry

Ribbon Lake Trail
Clickable Yellowstone Canyon South Rim Trail Map
Hiking In Bear Country
Altitude 101
Hiking Equipment
Printable Day Hiking Equipment List


When you reach the well marked Lily Pad Lake Trailhead, you will turn south on the trail.  Be aware that you are now entering the backcountry of Yellowstone and you are entering bear country.  All bear country protocol should be followed.  About a 1/10 of a mile south on the Lily Pad Lake Trailhead you will come to a trailhead register.  You should sign in, especially if you plan to use this as a jumping off point to do some backcountry camping.  Make sure to note if you are only doing a loop that you are traveling one way and leave the pen!

The tranquil scene of Lily Pad Lake is west of the trail which runs parallel to this small pond in the forest.  As you can probably guess is covered with lily pads.  This is a great place to see wildlife and there is signs of activity everywhere.

After you pass Lily Pad lake you will come to another trailhead for the Ribbon Lake Trail heading east and the Clear Lake Trail heading west.  The Ribbon Lake Trail runs about 2-1/4 miles east through forested backcountry to Ribbon Lake and Silver Cord Cascade, a waterfall that can also be seen by taking the North Rim Trail to the Silver Cord Cascade Overlook.

Take the Clear Lake trail west at this trailhead.  If you have visited Yellowstone's thermal areas before you will start to smell the familiar Yellowstone odor of sulfur, which most people describe as a rotten eggs smell.  The trail will take a small turn to the south and then head west again and after a slight incline the area opens up to seething, bubbling, roiling thermal area.  Several very large mud pots will be to your south, and they extend down into the ground about fifteen to twenty feet.  The area north of these mud pots is completely barren.  If you look careful, you can see that the area to the south of these mud pots has a thin crust over it (which you can also see in the picture below).  Do not approach these mud pots or climb down the sides to get a closer look.  

Clear Lake Trail Mud Pots, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States, copyright 1999, OutdoorPlaces.Com, all rights reservedThermal areas are dangerous and this one is no exception.  If you are confused on the trail placement, do not despair as you have two options.  You can follow the tree line south, and then cross west through an area of downed trees that are north of the mud pots.  OutdoorPlaces.Com does not recommend this route however.  Thermal areas are active and these down trees indicate moving thermal activity.  To get a good idea on how quickly a thermal area can form, visit Mud Volcano to see Yellowstone's newest thermal feature, in the middle of the parking lot!

You are better off heading north of the mud pots through the barren area.  If you look careful you should be able to find a trail of foot prints in the loose soil heading west.  Stay close to the tree line and if you are hiking in a group it is better to spread out a little but walk single file to cause minimal impact to the area.  As you pass the mud pots look to the southwest and you should see the next trail marker (if you look at the picture of the mud pots above you can see the trail going over a rise in the upper right corner).

The trail will continue through the thermal area and you will pass within a few feet of some seething steam vents.  The ground is actually warm here as you pass through.  You will never get closer to thermal features in Yellowstone without breaking park rules!

Clear Lake Trail Mud Pots, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States, copyright 1999, OutdoorPlaces.Com, all rights reservedThe trail will climb up a hill with a sharp break on it, as you approach the top, you will hear a rhythmic, deep growling -- don't worry, it is not a bear.  At the top of the hill is a very noisy steam vent.  The trail will curve south and you will come to the emerald green waters of Clear Lake.  Clear Lake gets it's color from the minerals seeping up from the ground.  The water is exceptional clear, like most thermal areas, but is not potable.  Do not put your hands in the water.

West back to Uncle Tom's Trailhead...

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