Kootenai Lakes Trail

Glacier Park

Kootenai Lakes

Includes Waterton Valley Trail, Citadel Peaks, Porcupine Lookout, Kootenai Lakes Trail

Kootenai Lakes, Glacier Park

Kootenai Lakes, Glacier National Park

Kootenai Lakes

Trailhead:  Goat Haunt, Waterton Valley Trail

Distance:  2.8 miles (one way)

Elevation Gain:  220 vertical feet

Includes Waterton Valley Trail, Citadel Peaks, Porcupine Lookout, Kootenai Lakes Trail

Kootenai Lakes in Glacier Park are located 2.8 miles south of Goat Haunt Montana, and is one of the popular Glacier Park hikes in the Goat Haunt Area.  Besides the spectacular beauty of the Kootenai Lakes area, Kootenai Lakes is also home to an amazing number of moose.  This plentiful moose population makes Kootenai Lakes a very popular Glacier Park day hike for those visitors coming in on the Waterton Lake Boat Tour who are wanting to catch another boat back to Waterton Township that same day.

Another very important aspect to the Kootenai Lakes area is the fact that there is a strategically located and popular Glacier Park backcountry campground. Glacier Park hikers often times use the Kootenai Lake Backcountry Campground when entering the Northern Wilderness of Glacier Park, or for those hikers coming back out of this remote and wild country.

The Kootenai Lakes area is one of our favorite hikes Glacier Park, whether we are hiking up to Kootenai Lakes from Goat Haunt, or if we're finishing up an overnight backpacking adventure from either the Stoney Indian Pass Trail or the Northern Highline Trail, both located in the Northern Wilderness of Glacier Park.

How to get to Goat Haunt Montana

Waterton Lake Boat Tour, Glacier Park

The Waterton Lake Boat Tour is the only practical way to get to Goat Haunt Montana in Glacier Park if you don't want to hike around Waterton Lake for 7 miles to get there!

Goat Haunt Montana is located near the northern border of Glacier Park,

Waterton Boat Tour, Goat Haunt, Glacier Park

The only practical way to get to Goat Haunt Montana is to take the Waterton Lake Tour Boat that begins at Waterton Township in Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.

Waterton Lake is about 8 miles long, and Waterton Township is on the north end (the foot) and Goat Haunt Montana is located at the south end of Waterton Lake (the head).

About halfway through the boat tour, you will cross the Canadian Border back into the United States and Glacier Park Montana.

The Waterton Lake Boat Tour is a wonderful treat.  The scenery is breathtaking and the tour guides are extremely informative and entertaining. So it's definitely true that in this case the journey is just as good as the destination,  which means you are going to have a great day all the way around!  We always enjoy Goat Haunt Montana as well as the boat ride to get to Goat Haunt Montana.

Goat Haunt Montana

Goat Haunt Montana, Glacier Park

Goat Haunt Montana is a spectular place with scenery that will make your jaw drop!  This photo shows the historic wooden boat "International" bringing another group of visitors to the famous Goat Haunt dock.

Goat Haunt Montana in Glacier Park is a magical place, with much history and world class scenery.  Known as "The Gateway to the Northern Wilderness of Glacier Park", Goat Haunt Montana is where all the Glacier Park trails leave or end throughout the Northern Wilderness.  Therefore, Goat Haunt is an extremely important place that is vital to your access into some of the most remote and gorgeous country your eyes have ever laid eyes on!  These remote Glacier Park hikes are our absolute favorite hikes in Glacier Park, and we are grateful that Goat Haunt is there to make it all possible.

U.S. Class B Port of Entry

Goat Haunt Montana, Glacier ParkGoat Haunt Montana is a U.S. Class B Port of Entry, which means that you must have proper documentation (a valid passport) to enter any of the Glacier Park hiking trails in the area.  This also means that only United States and Canadian citizens are allowed through this Port of Entry.

So once you're arrived at Goat Haunt, you must go the the Goat Haunt Ranger Station that is located just before the trailheads so a United States Customs Agent can check your passport and make sure you're OK to enter. These agents are very pleasant and nice, but they really mean business.  If you don't have the proper documentation, you will not be going on your Glacier Park hike.  Fact. That's it.  Period.  So make sure you have an updated (current) passport before making your plans for the Goat Haunt area.

Goat Haunt Ranger Station, Glacier Park

All visitors planning on taking any Goat Haunt hikes in Glacier Park must report to the Goat Haunt Ranger Station for Customs and Immigration Inspection.  Just beyond the ranger station are the trailheads to famous Glacier Park hikes into the Northern Wilderness.

For more details on Goat Haunt Montana, click here.

Trailhead to Kootenai Lakes

Once you get past Customs, the hike to Kootenai Lakes begins at the large trailhead sign just south of the Goat Haunt Ranger Station.  You want to take the Waterton Valley Trail, and not the Waterton Lake Trail.  This is really important to note, however the signs make it very easy to figure out.  The Waterton Valley Trail takes you to not only Kootenai Lakes, but beyond Kootenai Lakes the trail connects up with the Stoney Indian Trail and the Northern Highline Trail, both of which are incredibly famous Glacier Park hikes through the middle of the remote Northern Wilderness.

Waterton Valley Trail

Waterton Valley Trail Information Sign
Left Arrow

Waterton Lake Trail

Waterton Lake Trail Information Sign
Crossed-out Right Arrow

The hike from the Kootenai Lakes Trailhead to the Kootenai Lakes backcountry campground is a very pleasant hike through a beautiful forest.  There is very little elevation gain along this section of the Waterton Valley Trail, which makes this 2.8 mile Glacier Park hike even more pleasant.

Waterton Valley Trail, Kootenai Lakes, Glacier ParkYour Glacier Park hike along the Waterton Valley Trail works its way southward through the middle of this tremendous valley, which is where the Waterton River flows.  You won't see the Waterton River however until you get to Kootenai Lakes.

As you enjoy this wonderful Glacier Park hike, the gigantic Mount Cleveland looms above you to the east, but you won't get much of a view because of all the trees in the way.

To the southwest you will begin noticing the famous Citadel Peaks, which are iconic landmarks of the northern wilderness of Glacier Park. These uniquely shaped sharp spires can be seen from many different vantage points throughout this remote region, and they are located directly above the west shore of Kootenai Lakes. The closer you get to Kootenai Lakes on your Glacier Park hike, the more the Citadel Peaks will begin to show themselves.

Kootenai Lakes Trail Junction (mile 2.5)

Camp Creek near Kootenai Lakes in Glacier Park

Just after you cross a foot bridge over Camp Creek, at about mile 2.5 of your Glacier Park hike along the Waterton Valley Trail, you will come to the Kootenai Lakes junction.

The main Kootenai Lake is only 0.3 miles to the west of this junction (called the Kootenai Lakes Trail, so take a right (west) at the sign and leave the Waterton Valley Trail.

In just a few minutes you're Glacier Park hike will come to an end at the shore of Kootenai Lakes!

The Waterton Valley Trail continues southward towards other famous Glacier Park trails and Glacier Park hikes.

Kootenai Lake

Kootenai Lakes, Glacier Park

Kootenai Lake in Glacier Park is a spectacular lake with a spectacular view!

From the shore of the largest of the Kootenai Lakes (simply called Kootenai Lake) you will enjoy a tremendous view of not only the lake but also the towering mountains looming above it to the west.  These are the peaks belonging to what's known as Porcupine Ridge, and at the very end of this huge ridge rests the Citadel Peaks. These incredible spires rise directly above Kootenai Lake, and makes an unbelievable backdrop to an already gorgeous area.  You are standing in a beautiful spot in the Northern Wilderness of Glacier Park.  It just doesn't get any better than that!  (Well, that is unless there happens to be a moose feeding in the lake!)

Citadel Peaks

Citadel Peaks, Kootenai Lakes, Glacier Park

The Citadel Peaks in Glacier Park are an iconic landmark of Glacier Park's Northern Wilderness, and they rise directly above Kootenai Lake to the west.


Bull moose on Kootenai Lake in Glacier Park

If you're timing is right, you'll see a moose (or several moose) feeding in Kootenai Lake. This is perfect moose habitat, and nearly every time we've visited Kootenai Lake we've seen them.

One evening there were 5 moose at once feeding in the lake- 3 bulls and 2 cows! 
Now to increase your chances on seeing a moose, it's best to be there early in the morning or just before dark, which means you'll need to be camping here at the Kootenai Lake backcountry campground.

HOWEVER, we've seen moose here at all times of the day, so you still have a good chance of seeing a moose if you're here for a day hike and need to get back to the boat. (If you take the 10 o'clock boat to get to Goat Haunt, that puts you at Kootenai Lake at about 1pm.) Moose feed several times a day, throughout the day, so you just never know what you're going to see!

Kootenai Lake Backcountry Campground

Kootenai Lakes backcountry campground, Glacier Park

Just before you reach the shore of Kootenai Lake during your Glacier Park hike in the Goat Haunt area, you'll walk right by the Kootenai Lake Backcountry Campground.

This Glacier Park backcountry campground has 4 campsites, and is vitally important for those overnight Glacier Park hikers who are coming down from Stoney Indian Pass or Fifty Mountain.

These Glacier Park campsites are also crucial for those heading into those areas as well.  With that being said, the Kootenai Lake backcountry campground is quite popular, so if you want reservations (which is required by the National Park Service), make sure you make them early in the year.  You can also hope for a "walk-in" reservation if your plans are spur of the moment.  Just a reminder... to camp at any of the backcountry campgrounds in Glacier Park you need to get a backcountry permit (and reservations) at any of the ranger stations in Glacier Park, or at the visitor center at Waterton Lakes National Park.

Beyond Kootenai Lakes...

Porcupine Lookout

This 5.4 mile primitive Glacier Park trail takes you across the Waterton River, and then up to the Porcupine Lookout that is nestled high along the east slope of Porcupine Ridge.  This junction,  located along the Waterton Valley Trail, is about 4 miles from the Kootenai Lakes Trail junction.  (Details on the Pocupine Lookout are coming soon.)

Porcupine Lookout, Waterton Valley Trail, Glacier Park

Shannon stops to look at Porcupine Lookout along the Waterton Valley Trail in Glacier Park.  As you can see in this photo, the Glacier Park hike along the Waterton Valley Trail is very scenic.

Stoney Indian Pass Trail and Northern Highline Trail

The Waterton Valley Trail, which as you recall is located back up the Kootenai Lakes Trail about 0.3 miles, continues south along the Waterton Valley floor.  With very little elevation gain, in about 5 miles from the Kootenai Lakes Trail junction you will reach the Stoney Indian Pass Trail junction (which is about a mile beyond the Porcupine Lookout junction)...

Click the links above to visit these amazing hikes in Glacier Park that end up at Kootenai Lakes!

The Stoney Indian Pass Trail includes Stoney Indian PassStoney Indian LakeMokowanis LakeGlenns Lake and Cosley Lake, which makes this trail one of the most popular overnight hikes in Glacier Park. HOWEVER we strongly recommend that hikers start at the Chief Mountain Customs Trailhead and come DOWN to Goat Haunt instead of starting at Goat Haunt.  The main reason for this is that the great views are in front of you if you start at Chief Mountain Customs, instead of behind you.  For all the details on the Stoney Indian Pass Trail overnight adventure, click here.

The Stoney Indian Pass Trail heads off to the left (east) from the Stoney Indian Pass Trail junction.  If you keep going straight on the Waterton Valley Trail, the trail works it's way straight south up and out of the Waterton Valley and onto what's known as the Fifty Mountain Area along the Northern Highline Trail.  This grueling 5 mile climb out of the Waterton Valley is really hard on overnight backpackers, especially if they over-packed, because the elevation gain is about 2,500 vertical feet in 3 miles.  It's really best if they come down this trail by coming in from Logan Pass along the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park.

Citadel Peaks, Kootenai Lakes, Glacier Park

These again are the famous Citadel Peaks which rise directly above Kootenai Lakes to the west.   The Citadel Peaks are an iconic landmark in the Northern Wilderness of Glacier Park, and there's no better view of them than from the east shores of Kootenai Lake.   In this photo, the early morning sun lit up these sharp spires like candles.

The hike to Kootenai Lakes is a wonderful experience, and it allows visitors to get a taste of the remote Northern Wilderness of Glacier Park without having to grab an overnight pack.  And for those folks who love overnighting, the Northern Wildnerness of Glacier Park provides several of the best hikes in Glacier Park, as well as in the entire North American continent.  Kootenai Lakes is located perfectly for those overnighters who are exiting the Northern Wilderness, whether coming from the amazing Stoney Indian Pass area or the incredible Fifty Mountain area along the Northern Highline Trail.  So whether you enjoy day hikes in Glacier Park, or overnight hikes in Glacier Park, Kootenai Lakes is definitely a place to discover and enjoy.

Kootenai Lakes, Glacier Park

Kootenai Lakes in Glacier Park is a very scenic and wonderful place.

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