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West Lakes Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

10.7 mile 17.3 kilometer point to point
80% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 3,564' 1,086 m
Descent: -1,702' -519 m
High: 5,145' 1,568 m
Low: 3,219' 981 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 36% (20°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Map Key

Trail shared by Jake Bramante

A trail up and over a steep ridge leads to a wooded valley with a chain of lakes.

Jake Bramante

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Bring bear spray.

Runner Notes

This trail has very steep sections and numerous creek crossings past Arrow Lake. This area is also very popular with grizzlies which can make for dangerous trail running due to poor trail visibility and noisy creeks.

Description

From the trailhead, the trail steeply climbs up through an old burn, gaining almost 2,000 feet in a little over two miles. Filtered views of Lake McDonald as well as a nice variety of flowers and birds make for nice breaks while you climb. Once at the top of the ridge, you realize why this area is less visited despite being close to the busy Going-to-the-Sun Road. The climb is nothing to sneeze at!

From here, the trail traverses the ridgeline that borders old and new stands of trees. It then drops down on the north side of the ridge, dropping into the Camas Creek drainage through a wetter forest with older stands of trees with moss. Occasional views of Rogers Lake and Rogers Peak give a hint of the scenery in the valley down below.

After dropping approximately 1,000 feet, you pass the junction with the Camas Creek Trail and continue on to the foot of the long and beautiful Trout Lake. A large log jam at the foot of the lake tempts you to work your way across. Continue along the trail that follows the south shore of the lake, never straying far from the lake as you pass wooded areas and avalanche chutes. Few people stray onto this trail, but frequent bear scat lets you know you aren't alone despite the remote feeling.

The trail continues to the head of the lake where it climbs up over a ridge to a large avalanche chute where views of the surrounding mountains are spectacular. Camas Creek and Arrow Lake are also visible as you move towards the campground.

From the campground on the shores of the lake, you ford Camas Creek to continue on. This ford can be a bit sketchy in the spring making the next section more palatable when the creek goes down and the snow has melted out more further up the trail.

Follow along the northwest edge of the lake and cross the creek as it enters the lake. Keep crossing the feeder creeks and keep an eye to the north for orange markers that guide you to the obvious trail that continues through the meadows. At the end of the large meadow, the trail is frequently fairly overgrown with vegetation such as thimbleberries. Make sure to make plenty of noise from this point on due to low visibility and frequent grizzlies.

The trail begins to climb up along Camas Creek which is playfully bubbling over rocks. As you gain elevation and cross the creek again, the views open up as you enter the open alpine. The trail turns up the drainage to Camas Creek. A ford through soft mud brings you to the campground along the lake.

Flora & Fauna

Wide variety of forest flowers and animals from the burn to the wet forest to the alpine areas. From fireweed to thimbleberry to beargrass, small animals such as squirrels and chipmunks to large ones such as grizzlies. Birds range from woodpeckers and chickadees to waterfowl in the creeks.

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Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#12

in Lake McDonald

#11324

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Trail Rankings

#12

in Lake McDonald

#248

in Montana

#11,324

Overall
5 Views Last Month
462 Since Sep 2, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

View from the foot of Trout Lake.
Jun 8, 2016 near Red Roc…, MT
Trout Lake hike from the Trout Lake trailhead all the way up to Camas Lake, then back out through Camas Creek to the Camas Creek trailhead.
Apr 7, 2016 near Red Roc…, MT

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