Otokomi Lake Trail
Otokomi Lake, Glacier National Park
Otokomi Lake Trail
Trailhead: Rising Sun (7 miles west of East Entrance of Glacier Park)
Distance: 5.2 miles (one way)
Elevation Gain: 1,882 vertical feet
Otokomi Lake in Glacier National Park is a very scenic 5.2 mile day hike that begins at Rising Sun along the west side of the Going To The Sun Road. Located in the St. Mary Valley, the Otokomi Lake Trail (a.k.a. Rose Creek Trail) climbs 1,882 vertical feet in 5.2 miles, where Otokomi Lake rests in a beautiful cirque below Goat Mountain known as Rose Basin. There are several gorgeous waterfalls along the way as the Otokomi Lake Trail follows Rose Creek, and the view at the lake is wonderful. This is a popular Glacier Park hike- especially for those visitors staying at Rising Sun. There is a fair amount of vertical elevation gain, so make sure you are in at least adequate physical condition before taking this Glacier National Park hike. The Otokomi Lake Trail is not on our list of "Favorite Glacier Park Hikes", but it very well should be because it is very scenic and is quite enjoyable.
Finding The Trailhead
Rising Sun is located about 7 miles west of the East Entrance of Glacier National Park (St. Mary) along the Going To The Sun Road.
The trailhead to Otokomi Lake is located at Rising Sun, which is 7 miles from the East Entrance of Glacier National Park along the Going To The Sun Road.
Rising Sun includes the Rising Sun Motor Inn and Cabins, as well as Two Dog Flats Restaurant, Rising Sun General Store, Rising Sun Shuttle Stop and the Rising Sun Campground.
The trailhead is located just west of the main building, next to the large parking area. The trail to Otokomi Lake is known as both the Otokomi Lake Trail and the Rose Creek Trail, which is a little confusing.
Otokomi Lake Trailhead (mile 0.0)
The trail initially takes you through the Rising Sun Motor Inn and Cabin area of Glacier National Park, as it works its way into the Rose Creek Drainage. In about 0.2 miles, you will see another sign that says "Rose Creek Trail", which is essentially the same trail that you are presently on. Keep going straight to continue onward towards Otokomi Lake.
Rose Creek along the Otokomi Lake Trail in Glacier National Park, with the mountains of the St. Mary Valley in the distance.
Little Chief Mountain (left) and Dusty Star Mountain (right) as viewed from the Otokomi Lake Trail in Glacier National Park. These mountains are part of the St. Mary Valley.
Make sure you look back towards the St. Mary Valley as you gain in elevation, as you will get a unique view of the towering Little Chief Mountain and Dusty Star Mountain to the south just before you enter the Rose Creek Drainage (see photo above).
Rose Creek (mile 1.5)
Rose Creek along the Otokomi Lake Trail in Glacier National Park.
The Otokomi Lake Trail (a.k.a. Rose Creek Trail) in Glacier National Park will then enter the Rose Creek Drainage, and at mile 1.5 the Otokomi Lake Trail begins to parallel Rose Creek for the next 2.5 miles, where you will enjoy several gorgeous cascades, pools and unnamed waterfalls.
This is a very scenic portion of the hike to Otokomi Lake, that is if you like beautiful mountain streams, cascades and waterfalls through a wonderfully lush pine forest. This stretch is especially nice during the early part of the summer where the snow melt off is still going strong.
As the trail continues to steadily climb, you will cross the creek that is coming from Otokomi Mountain to the northeast on a well built foot bridge. Otokomi Mountain in Glacier National Park is a large, rolling mountain that covers a lot of area.
On top of Otokomi Mountain is a vast area of alpine meadows that connect to several mountains in the immediate vicinity. You won't see any of this from the Otokomi Trail, but it's fascinating to know that there is a huge "island" of alpine meadows looming directly above you to the northeast.
The trail will then temporarily part from Rose Creek as it works its way up to through a sub-alpine forested area as it heads into the Rose Creek Basin. You will begin to see the long west ridge of Otokomi Mountain to the north (see photo below).
Rose Creek Basin (mile 4.0)
At about 4 miles into your Otokomi Lake hike in Glacier National Park, you will enter a large open rock slide area, where you will get a great view of Goat Mountain to the west. Otokomi Lake rests at the end of this large cirque. This rock slide, as well as the entire cirque that's home to Otokomi Lake is known as the Rose Basin (see photo below).
Shannon heading towards Otokomi Lake in Glacier National Park. She has just entered the rock slide area of Rose Basin. Otokomi Lake is located below the large snow field in the distance.
As the trail works its way through the large rock slide, the views get better and better as you make your way to the west.
Rose Creek will be fairly far below you to the south (left) for awhile, but just before you reach the lake, the trail will once again meet up with Rose Creek and follow its north bank.
Otokomi Lake Campground (mile 5.1)
Just before you reach Otokomi Lake, you will encounter the Otokomi Lake Campground to the left. This campground is for hikers who want to make the Otokomi Lake hike a multi-day Glacier Park hiking experience. Make sure to get your NPS back country reservations made in advance if you're interesting in camping at the Otokomi Lake Campground.
Beyond the campground junction, you will hike right along the north bank of Rose Creek as the trail heads toward the outlet of Otokomi Lake (see photo below).
Rose Creek near the outlet of Otokomi Lake in Glacier Park.
Otokomi Lake (mile 5.2)
Otokomi Lake in Glacier National Park.
Otokomi Lake is a gorgeous Glacier National Park lake. There are some really nice beaches (if the water level is not too high) as the trail works its way along the northeast shore of the lake. There are towering cliffs surrounding the lake, and the name "Rose Basin" came from the reddish color of the argillite rock that most of these cliffs are composed of. Find a beach that you like, and enjoy a nice lunch as you take in the beauty of Otokomi Lake and the Rose Basin area.
Otokomi Lake, Glacier National Park.