Cygnet Lakes in Yellowstone National Park is a lake at the end of a large meadow reached by four miles of level hiking through lodgepole stands. Due to the marshy edges of the lakes, you can’t get very close and many visitors may find the day better spent going to other lakes.
The trail to Cygnet Lakes begins at an obvious pullout. It spends its 4.2 miles to the lakes on mostly level ground going through stands of lodgepole pines of various ages. I was hiking through in June, so the combination of the time of year and the many pocket ponds along the way led to it being a bit buggy. There is one interesting vantage overlooking Otter Creek and a few larger ponds can be reached off trail along the way. Overall, however, things are pretty mundane.
Once at the meadow where the lakes reside, you can wander towards the lake, but never right up to its shores. It’s marshy edges preclude you from getting too close. It’s lack of visitors, however, will lead you to have a pretty quiet day compared with other areas of Yellowstone National Park.
One thing to note is that the birding is quite nice. Lodgepole forests with ponds interspersed as well as a larger meadow with a pond yield nice forest birds such as finches, chickadees and sparrows, while the more open areas are home to bluebirds. The water gives you swans and duck species such as buffleheads and scaup.
The hike is pleasant, but not as compelling for something that is almost 8.5 miles round trip, although it’s not particularly difficult.