Hike to Emerald and Heather Lake



10.9 miles

Elevation Gain

2000 ft

Route Type


Added by Tucker Gill

This is an unbelievable hike that takes you into the backcountry of Montana. The end destination is near two beautiful alpine lakes in a valley surrounded by stunning mountain cliffs. 

Once in Bozeman, Take 19th Ave. south to Hyalite Canyon Rd. Turn left and continue past Hyalite Reservoir; when the road splits, take the left fork toward Palisade Falls. Continue past Palisade Falls to the end of the road. The trailhead is immediately ahead of you. This hike is around 11 miles to Emerald like, the first of the two lakes in the area. It has an elevation gain of around 2000 feet, making for a moderate hike. Heather Lake is another mile up the trail, and approximately 200 feet higher. 

Emerald and Heather Lake are absolutely stunning. But the hike up is just as beautiful. You'll pass incredible open wooded areas, and small stream waterfalls along the way. The lakes are crystal clear, filled with hungry fish, and chilled by mountain runoff. They are surrounded by intense mountain cliffs that make for an excellent backdrop. This hike makes for an excellent day trip, or overnight excursion. You can camp anywhere along the lakes. Be aware that Hyalite canyon is closed during spring runoff, and snow doesn't usually melt completely at the top of the hike until at least the middle of June. The closing dates are usually April 1 to May 15.  

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Know for

Mountain Biking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Swimming Hole



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Lovely Trail- Can make it an overnight hike

You could easily complete this as an out and back hike, but it also makes a wonderful overnight hike- it could easily be a multiple night backpacking trip. Make sure you bring your fly fishing rod! There are grayling in Emerald Lake, and cutthroat in Heather Lake. If you're lucky like me, you might even see a bald eagle in action. Seriously, this hike is accessible, *relatively* easy with a lot of payoff, and close to town. Do it! PS I went the end of June- there was still a bit of snow on the trail to Emerald and a LOT of snow on the way to Heather.


Beautiful lakes! The first 3.5 miles are strictly in the trees (you will however pass a 30' waterfall) and then the trail completely opens up. The views and solidarity are stunning.

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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