Canyon Lake Trail

HARD 9 reviews
#14 of 33 trails in

Canyon Lake Trail is a 8.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Hamilton, MT that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from March until October.

8.4 miles 2815 feet Out & Back



nature trips





wild flowers

2 months ago

this hike to the lake is longer than 8 miles. the sign at the start of the hike indicates that the lake is 5 miles one way. the trail is relatively flat as it follows the river into the valley. however, it reaches a point where the trail goes nearly straight up dramatically. it follows the face of the mountain over the ridge to the lake.
the trail up the mountain is nearly all rock face. it can be hard to follow; follow the stacked "zen" rocks.
HUGE side note: on the return from the lake we lost the trail on the rock face. we back tracked a few times but was unsuccessful following the trail we took up. we ended up Bushwacking our way down the mountain, sliding down the rocks and scrambling boulders. once down the mountain we climbed over fallen trees listening to the sound of the river and eventually found the trail near the river. I would say that if you are doing this trail to be confident in your hiking abilities, scrambling, navigation, and trail finding skills. there was a moose in the area but we did not come across it, be alert of your surroundings.
we started at 12noon and finished at 7:45pm.

4 months ago

Not for rookies. While the first 3.5 miles are a reasonable slope, the final 1.5 miles will beat you up. As an experienced backpackers this one ranks as a hard trip. However, it is completely worth it when you get to the lake. There are 3 camp sites (close proximity to each other) right as you come to the lake.

5 months ago

great hike! few misleading paths but vary distinct main trail. The last 30-40min / 2mil. is pretty steep. nice little camp spot on the cliff before the lake. The Lake itself was worth the hike. highly recommend it. also first hour there is quite a few water access trails.

6 months ago

In some places on the trail we got lost but we did find our way back on. When we were just getting to where we could see the canyon we lost the trail and never found our way to the lake. We saw a few bear tracks and heard something off in the distance. But I will go back and find the lake.

1 year ago

Beautiful hike. Not very easy on the last ~1.5 miles. Great fishing!

1 year ago

2 years ago

The first four miles is relatively unimpressive as you move along Canyon creek in a heavily forested valley floor with moderate elevation gain. Watch your footing throughout, there are a variety of obstacles, rocks, tree roots, washouts, etc, that can pose challenges for footing. The last couple miles climbs rapidly, roughly 1,500 vertical, and the trail becomes extremely rocky, so trekking poles are highly recommended. The view improve as you climb, culminating in a phenomenal high mountain lake and Canyon Mountain in the background. Very doable as a day hike; completed in four hours. Total statistics on my Garmin Fenix showed 11 miles and 3,500 feet of total elevation gain.

3 years ago

Decent day hike. Beautiful lake

4 years ago

This is a great trail in the Bitterroots! It's a 10 mile out and back hike up to the lake. Canyon Lake Creek runs along the trail basically the entire length. It winds through pretty heavy forest and you will get a nice view of the rocky mountain tops along the way. The first 3 to 4 miles of the trail are decently easy but the last mile turns upwards quickly, gaining probably 1200 ft or so. All that work pays off once you reach the lake though. It's a beautiful lake with Canyon Peak hovering above it, which could be climbed after a night at the lake.