The Ice Lake Trail in Yellowstone National Park* is a short out and back to a picturesque lake and back-country campsite 4D3. The campsite is an accessible back-country campsite with an accessible pit toilet and is reachable using either off-road handcycle or wheelchair. This is a great opportunity for individuals with mobility impairments looking to get away from the crowds of front-country campsites.
From the trailhead along the road between Norris Geyser Basin and Canyon, the trial immediately crosses a wooden bridge before a mild climb through lodgepole pine forest that burned in the fires of 1988. The trees range from 8-15 feet high so they don’t provide much shade on hot sunny days. The trail is a wide base of soil typical to Yellowstone – a cinder and sand mixture that provides a firm base and is easy to traverse.
At approximately 0.2 miles the trail forks, with the right fork going to the lake and campsite 4D3. The left fork wraps around the lake, eventually connecting to the Howard Eaton trail but this section offers little to no opportunity for a wheelchair or off-road handcycle user to get to the lake due to significant deadfall.
Following the right fork the trail descends almost imperceptibly to the lake, reaching the cooking area set in a grove of larger lodgepole that were spared in the 1988 fires. A short jaunt beyond the cooking area brings one to the shore of the lake along a small bay. The campsite and accessible pit toilet are located a short distance from the cooking area further away from the water.
The return trip is just as easy as the outbound leg.
* A short note on the use of off-road handcycles in National Parks
Wheelchair use is explicitly permitted in wilderness areas including national parks. Most places are understanding of and accepting of the use of off-road handcycles as a form of wheelchair but please remember to be a good steward of this mutual understanding with the park service. Keep speeds to a minimum as if you were hiking, even on smooth downhill portions of trails. If you require the use of electric-assist also keep that to a minimum. This is a great opportunity we all have to use our off-road handcycles / wheelchairs to reach places that would otherwise be inaccessible with a regular wheelchair. Flying down trails or speeding past other trail users risks the type of negative reaction that could result in the loss of this amazing opportunity.
Trail Name: Ice Lake – Yellowstone National Park
Location: West Yellowstone, Wyoming |
Type: Wide trail (≥ 30″), Start and end at the same point (Out-and-Back)
Rating: Adaptive Level 04
Steepest Section: Mild – under 10º
Most Off-Camber Section: Mild – under 10º
Terrain: Mostly hardpack, minimal loose sections
Obstacles: Root exposure
Help Needed? Nope
Even more info: video of full ride to lake
Directions to Trailhead
The trailhead is located along the Norris Canyon Road between Norris Geyser Basin and Canyon Village. Watch for the signs and the parking area along the north side of the road.