Statistics: 10 miles round trip, ascent 2,000 feet.
The Hyalite Canyon area, about 21 miles from Bozeman, has multitudes of hiking options. This hike is a loop, including both Emerald Lake and Heather Lake, up Hyalite Canyon Rd. beyond the Hyalite reservoir. The initial 3 1/2 miles are, for the main part, a steady climb through the forest. The trail often parallels or crosses the East Fork of Hyalite Creek, occasionally presenting the hiker with tumbling waterfalls.
Soon after a series of rocky switchbacks up the mountain, the trail levels out into a lovely, high-mountain meadow with Hyalite Creek rushing by.
Beyond this meadow, a gradual uphill trail continues on toward Emerald Lake.
Finally, at the base of Mount Chisholm, we arrived at our first destination.
Emerald Lake and Heather Lake sit beneath a large cirque that is partly comprised of Mount Chisholm and Overlook Mountain. After resting to enjoy Emerald Lake and this peaceful scene, we pressed on to visit Heather Lake, walking through wildflower-strewn meadows.
With a little more climbing, we crested a hill and there was Heather Lake, quite a mountain jewel!
Walking around the lake, we noticed a path leading up to the base of the cirque and found many wildflowers along the way.
Heather Lake was definitely the highlight of this hike, so we decided to walk a little further for a better vantage point of the lake and its surroundings.
Continuing around the lake, we returned to the path which had brought us here, enjoying one more view of Emerald Lake.
Before we descended into the forest and back to the trailhead of this two-lake route, we took a little time to have a snack and enjoy the beauty of the area.