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||>|| Trout Lake, Camas Valley
Includes Rogers Lake, Arrow Lake, Camas Lake, Lake Evangeline, Ruger Lake
Trailhead: North Shore Lake McDonald Road, Trout Creek Trailhead
Distance From Trout Lake Trailhead: Trout Lake: 3.8 miles (one way)
Arrow Lake: 6.9 miles (one way)
Camas Lake: 10.5 miles (one way)
(Distance from Camas Creek Trailhead: add an additional 3.4 miles to each above mileages.)
Elevation Gain: Trout Lake: 2,500 vertical feet
Camas Lake: 3,150 vertical feet
Elevation Loss: Trout Lake and Camas Lake: 1,230 vertical feet
(See trail map at the bottom of the page)
The hike to Trout Lake in Glacier National Park is part of a longer hike that takes Glacier Park hiking enthusiasts to Arrow Lake and Camas Lake. Beyond the trail's end at Camas Lake, hikers can then bushwack to Lake Evangeline and Ruger Lake if they so desire. There are two separate trailheads that end up at Trout Lake, one of which is found on the Inside North Fork Road (a.k.a. Glacier Route 7), and the other is along the North Shore Lake McDonald Road. The shorter of the two Glacier Park hikes is the North Shore Lake McDonald Road trailhead (Trout Lake Trailhead), but the downside is that you must climb 2,500 vertical feet to the top of Howe Ridge in just over 2 miles, then drop another 1,230 feet to reach the foot of Trout Lake. The Inside North Fork Road trailhead (Camas Creek Trailhead) is an additional 3.4 miles, but is relatively flat. By far the most popular trail taken by Glacier Park hikers to visit Trout Lake, Arrow Lake, Camas Lake and beyond, is the shorter Trout Lake trail over Howe Ridge.... but we highly recommend that you be in reasonable physical condition before attempting this fairly strenuous Glacier Park hike. Note: Between Arrow Lake and Camas Lake, there are 5 major fords (stream crossings) that you must endure, and the trail is often times overrun by underbrush, therefore this section of the Camas Creek Trail is best suited for experienced hikers only, especially if overnight backpacks are being worn.
Finding The Trout Lake Trailhead
The Trout Lake Trailhead is located along the North Shore Lake McDonald Road in Glacier National Park. This road is located about one half mile east of the Lake McDonald Lodge Area.
To find this road, simply drive east on the Going To The Sun Road toward Logan Pass, and in only one half mile, take a left onto the North Fork Lake McDonald Road.
This gravel road wraps about the head of Lake McDonald, and in about one half mile, you'll see the Trout Lake Trailhead sign and a narrow area to park your vehicle. (See trail map at bottom of page).
The Camas Creek Trailhead, which is another route to Trout Lake, is located along the Inside North Fork Road, also known as Glacier Route 7. Click Here for more information on the Inside North Fork Road which originates near the Fish Creek Campground,
Trout Creek Trailhead (mile 0.0)
The hike to Trout Lake in Glacier National Park immediately heads uphill from the trailhead. In just over 2 miles you will gain 2,500 vertical feet as you reach the top of Howe Ridge.
You will definitely get your workout on this section of the trail, especially if you are carrying an overnight pack. And remember, this is a one-way hike, so what you go up, you must come back down!
As you gain in elevation, you will see Lake McDonald behind you to the south, and you will also get a nice view of Mount Brown and Cannon Mountain to the east as you hike through a recent forest fire aftermath (mid 2000's).
As you climb up the south slope of Howe Ridge, you will get a good view of Cannon Mountain to the east as you enter a recent forest fire area.
If you look behind you as you gain in elevation on the Trout Lake Trail in Glacier National Park, you will get a glimpse of Lake McDonald and the scenic mountains to the south.
Howe Ridge Trail Junction (mile 2.3)
This is a view from the top of Howe Ridge near the Howe Ridge Trail Junction. The peak in the distance is Rogers Peak, which rests above Trout Lake in Glacier National Park. From here, the trail then drops 1,230 vertical feet in just over a mile to the foot of Trout Lake.
After climbing 2,500 vertical feet in just over 2 miles, you will reach the Howe Ridge Trail Junction. Stay right to continue onward to Trout Lake. The Howe Ridge Trail is actually a fire trail that is NOT maintained and has been swallowed up by vegetation.
From the top of Howe Ridge, you can see Rogers Peak to the north, which is located just above Trout Lake. After you rest a awhile and have some water and a snack, then continue on along the Trout Lake Trail, which is also called the West Lakes Trail for some unknown reason. Once past the Howe Ridge ridge line, the Trout Lake Trail then dramatically drops 1,230 vertical feet downward in 1.2 miles until you're eventually at the foot of Trout Lake.
There are several switchbacks as you work your way down the north slope of Howe Ridge, which makes this section of the Trout Lake hike a little easier on the knees. But as you are working you're way down hill, you can't help but think about the climb back up, especially if you're carrying an overnight backpack.
Shannon heading down from Howe Ridge towards Trout Lake in Glacier National Park. On this section of Trout Lake Trail, you will descend 1,230 vertical feet in just over a mile, where you will end up at the foot of Trout Lake in the Camas Valley.
On you're way down the north slope of Howe Ridge, you will see Rogers Lake below you to the north (left). This lake is located just west of Trout Lake, and there is no camping area here. The Camas Creek Trail works it's way around Rogers Lake to the north, but this trail stays about a hundred yards from the shore of Rogers Lake. Therefore, Rogers Lake is a very seldom visited lake in the Camas Valley.
A view of Rogers Lake from the Trout Lake Trail on the north slope of Howe Ridge in Glacier National Park.
Camas Creek Trail Junction (mile 3.5)
This is a view from the west ridge of Stanton Mountain of both the Trout Lake Trail and the Camas Creek Trail. The Trout Lake Trail drops out of view beyond Howe Ridge from this vantage point, and shows up again near the Camas Creek Trail Junction.
Here's another view from the west ridge of Stanton Mountain in Glacier National Park that shows the Trout Lake Trail - Camas Creek Trail Junction, as well as both Rogers Lake and Trout Lake.
About 0.3 miles from the foot of Trout Lake, you will encounter the Camas Creek Trail Junction. Camas Creek Trail originates along the Inside North Fork Road. This trailhead is 6.9 miles from this junction that you are standing by. The Camas Creek Trailhead route is not as popular as the Trout Creek Trailhead route because it adds 3.4 miles to the hike, but the advantage is that it is fairly level. But with that said, probably 95% of Glacier Park hiking enthusiasts choose the Trout Lake Trailhead even though there is a 7,460 feet total vertical gain and loss (round trip) just to visit Trout Lake.
Trout Lake (mile 3.8)
From the Camas Creek Trail Junction, the trail heads through a dense forest until it reaches the foot of Trout Lake. There is a great place to eat lunch at the huge log jam that crosses Trout Lake at this location. From this vantage point at the log jam, looking up the length of Trout Lake, you will see Stanton Mountain and Mount Vaught towering above the south shore, and the peak furthest in the distance along the south shore of Trout Lake is Heavens Peak. The valley that Trout Lake rests in, as well as all the other lakes that are located beyond Trout Lake, is called the Camas Valley, and is prime grizzly bear habitat the entire way. So be alert and talk loud so you don't surprise a grizzly bear during this Glacier Park hiking adventure.
A view of Trout Lake from the log jam located near the foot of the lake.
The Trout Lake log jam, near the foot of the lake. View of Trout Lake from the log jam.
Arrow Lake / Arrow Lake Campground (mile 6.9)
Shannon on her way to Arrow Lake along the Camas Creek Trail through the Camas Valley.
Once you've enjoyed a nice lunch on the shore of Trout Lake in Glacier National Park, you can then begin your hike to Arrow Lake. The trail skirts near the shore of Trout Lake for about 2 miles until it reaches the head of Trout Lake. Along this section of your Glacier Park hiking adventure, you will occasionally see open avalanche slopes that expose the large mountains along the south side of the Camas Creek Valley, such as Stanton Mountain, Mount Vaught and McPartland Mountain. Once the trail leaves the head of Trout Lake, you will walk through a dense forest of Douglas fir as it climbs approximately 650 vertical feet. Once you reach Arrow Lake and the Arrow Lake Campground, you will see Heavens Peak towering above you to the southeast. The campground is located near the foot of Arrow Lake, and as the trail works its way to the outlet stream, you will encounter the Arrow Lake Outlet Ford, which is the first of five major fords along Camas Creek as you continue your hike to Camas Lake.
This is a view of the Camas Valley from the west ridge of Stanton Mountain in Glacier National Park. Illustrated in this photo is the trail from Trout Lake to Arrow Lake.
Camas Lake / Camas Lake Campground (mile 10.5)
Once you're past Arrow Lake and the Arrow Lake Outlet Ford, as the Camas Creek Trail works its way to Camas Lake, you will encounter 4 more major stream fords. The earlier it is is the year, the more difficult these stream crossings will be... and remember, this is a one way hike, so everything you ford, you have to ford again on the way back. The trail can get extremely brushy later in the summer, and it becomes nearly overgrown with parsnip. Occasionally, the trail crew will clear out this annoying brush, making the hike to Camas Lake a little more enjoyable.
At mile 10.5, just before reaching Camas Lake, you will encounter the Camas Lake Campground. This backcountry campground is the last of the backcountry campgrounds along the Camas Valley, and the Camas Creek Trail ends shortly after this. The view from Camas Lake isn't very spectacular due to the surrounding brushy ridges that surround the lake.
View of the Camas Valley from the west ridge of Stanton Mountain. Camas Lake is just out of view from this particular vantage point. There are five major stream fords between Arrow Lake and Camas Lake.
Want To Go Further? Lake Evangeline and Ruger Lake
The Camas Creek Trail ends at the foot of Camas Lake, so if you want to hike further up toward the head of Camas Valley, it's entirely a bushwack. Lake Evangeline is approximately 2.2 miles beyond Camas Lake, and is about 1,200 vertical feet higher in elevation. This is all serious grizzly country, so make sure you talk EXTREMELY LOUD the entire hike, and have your bear spray close at hand.
Lake Evangeline is hidden from view from where we are standing along the west ridge of Stanton Mountain, but we tried to illustrate where it is located with perspective to the entire Camas Valley.
And if you STILL want to go even further to the actual head of Camas Valley in Glacier National Park, then from Lake Evangeline, continue bushwacking another mile to Ruger Lake, which is about 500 vertical feet higher than Lake Evangeline. Ruger Lake rests directly below the amazing Longfellow Peak, which is an impressive sight, but is it worth the bushwack? That's up to you to decide.
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