By JOE CARTWRIGHT
Special to North Palm Beach Life
Photos by Joe Cartwright
At over 8,000 acres, Shoshone Lake is the largest wilderness lake in the lower 48 states that does not have a road reaching it. Several trails lead to Shoshone Lake, and it can be reached by boat from Lewis Lake, which does have roads (and boat ramps) serving it. Motors are allowed on Lewis Lake but not on the Lewis River flowing from Shoshone Lake. There is only one place on a Yellowstone road you can even catch a glimpse of Shoshone Lake -- from Shoshone Point, between West Thumb and Old Faithful.
The Shoshone Lake Trail begins near Lone Star Geyser, just south of the Old Faithful area. This trail sees a lot of horse and foot travel, and has a bridge over the Firehole River. By this trail, it is about 8 miles from the trail head south of Old Faithful to the lake shore. The trail has modest elevation changes and travels over Grants Pass before descending to the lake.
Returning from one trip on this trail, I stopped on a bridge, removed my dusty boots and sweaty socks and thrilled to soaking my feet in the icy waters of the river. I just laid back on the bridge with my legs and feet dangling in the cold water. I was less than thrilled when I pulled my feet out of the water and found my legs and feet covered with leeches.
The Shoshone Lake trail leads to the west end of the lake, which hosts a geyser basin with some of the highest concentrations of active geysers in the world. Over in one portion of the basin there are 80 active geysers within a 29-acre space.
Most of my hikes to Shoshone have been down another trail leading to the north end of Shoshone Lake. The DeLacy Creek Trail is a fairly level trail that follows DeLacy Creek as it flows into Shoshone Lake. The trail follows a slow descent along the creek three miles through meadows and wooded sections. Typically, this trail is used by foot traffic only; I don’t think it’s closed to horses, but I’ve never seen evidence of them. On one of my trips hiking to this lake I was greeted by a female moose grazing in the marshy area of DeLacy Creek, just before the creek flowed into the lake. Backcountry campsites are scattered all around Shoshone Lake. The only ones I have used personally are those around DeLacy Creek.