Hiking Quality and Options: 7/10 Family Friendly: 9/10
Special Features: Elk and Bison!
I found out about Lone Elk Park through one of my lovely coworkers, Vivian. We both decided it would be fun to go together, so she brought an old friend and we set out early on Sunday morning. It was extremely foggy when we got on the road. We arrived in only 30 minutes which felt like no time. We passed the driving time pondering what the chances were that we would actually see elk.
To our extreme excitement, an elk stood in the middle of the road right at the entrance to the park! He really was a "lone elk," as there were no others around him and he peacefully watched us as we scrambled to take photos.
Slowly, he rambled off the road and we were able to continue on our way to the parking lot. Before we even reached the lot, we saw another group of elk in the forest.
Here we had not even exited our car yet and we had already spotted 6 elk. But then we finally arrived. There is only one main trail that goes through Lone Elk Park. It is called the White Bison Trail. It is 4 miles long and the terrain is dirt and rocks. There is some elevation and I would personally call it an intermediate level hike. So, we picked up the trail and started on our way.
It was peaceful. Only a few other hikers were on the trail with us, and the rustle of leaves and chirping of birds was such a welcoming sound to me. We trekked along at a brisk pace for about 20 minutes until we came upon the herd of elk that we had seen from the road. They were extremely unconcerned with their proximity to us as we stood on the trail ogling at them. They seemed more interested in their snacks that they were finding under brown leaves than in us.
The whole scene was really beautiful and unique. We finished the hike without going around the whole loop. By mistake, we took a shortcut back to the trailhead by way of the road because we wanted to walk along the lake. However, the lake route we took ended up being really pretty and we weren't sad that we were unable to take the whole trail around.
After our hike, we drove through the bison area. You are not allowed to go on foot in the bison area, but you can drive through and get very close to them. They were eating hay along the edge of the road, giving drivers the perfect opportunity to watch them happily eat their breakfast.
Overall, I would highly recommend this park, hike, and drive to anyone who has an interest in wildlife. The hike is a good workout as well, and checking out Lone Elk Park could add that much needed variety you've been looking to add to your workout.
Have you been to Lone Elk Park? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!