Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Flathead National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
4 months ago

Really beautiful trail, but never made it down to the lake due to losing the trail. We have since figured out our mistake and will probably go back next summer! Saw mountain goats and bear scat, but made lots and lots of noise to scare away any unwanted bear encounters.

I really like this trail. The views along the way are nice and become amazing from Standard Peak. You can see the entire Flathead Valley from the top. The road to access this trail is seasonal. There is a gate on McGinnis Creek Road that is closed until July 1st. I think it stays open until possibly some time in September. There are a few places along the trail that are under the cover of trees, but it is mostly open so wear sunscreen.

hiking
4 months ago

The road up to the parking lot has a lot of washboard areas which made the drive less enjoyable, even in a 4WD truck. Parking was adequate.

The hike was very enjoyable. Lots of variety including lakes, rocks, streams and alpine meadows. We didn’t run into any bears but we had bear spray just in case.

backpacking
5 months ago

Did this hike last weekend. Lake was great and the trail was pretty easy. The trail up to island lake was a little difficult to stay on as it was overgrown in spots. The was only one bigger camp site with two smaller sites that could probably only fit one tent. I only saw one camp site on island lake but I bet you could camp on the sizable island if you can get your gear over to it. Still plenty of snow in spots even in August.
We did see quite a few day hikers on the trails but none stayed long as there are several lakes to explore.

on Sapphire Lake

hiking
5 months ago

Many trails are available from the Holland Lake trailhead, which is easily accessible 4 miles down a good dirt road right off of route 83. Do not try to find the trailhead by entering Sapphire Lake directly into GoogleMaps, as that brought me to the wrong place. The AllTrails directions brought me to the right trailhead, which has restrooms, but no water. It was fairly busy there by mid-day, mostly with folks taking the trail to the falls.

Like most of the other reviewers here, I only went to Upper Holland Lake, which was 11 miles RT and 2753 ft of elevation gain. I am guessing that to get up to Sapphire Lake is much more than another 0.4 miles. That is a good thing, because that would be a short distance over which to gain another 842 ft of elevation.

Very nice hike. The views of Holland Lake are pretty, and the hike brings you through varied terrain, sometimes along a creek with nice waterfalls. It is a steady, but not brutal uphill trip on a well maintained trail with only a little bit of overgrowth in a few places. Upper Holland Lake seems like a popular spot to overnight. I did not see any bears, but I feel like maybe I did see paw prints on the trial.

There are many other trails in this area not shown on this map, and you could easily get confused if you don't have a more complete map. I relied on the AllTrails app and still ended up taking a wrong turn on the way down and had to backtrack when I realized that I had missed the bridge over the creek right by the camping area about halfway up.

backpacking
5 months ago

Beautiful if you can find your way down to it! Desperately wanted to spend the night. Was at the top looking down on Crater Lake but trail was hard to follow. It appears to lead you through a Bush-whacking stretch but if you find yourself doing that then you missed the narrow little, hard-left turn that seemingly only takes you to an overlook. As I was later told, you need to follow over (along the top of that rock) and trail continues on other side. It is thick bear country — evidence in my pic of large scat at ‘end of trail’.

Nice hike with my dog. Half the trail is under tree cover through the forest and crosses several small streams. The other half is pretty open so you need some sun protection. Moran Patrol Cabin is located near by on the north west end of the ridge line. Trail is very narrow through the forest part of the hike.

backpacking
6 months ago

Very tough hike.

Absolutely gorgeous. Saw a lot of animals and wild flowers. Enjoyed endless rainfall the first day. Couldn’t make it all the way to Sapphire lake and instead stopped at Upper Holland.

Trail is well traveled and easy to follow.

Recommend bringing a friend.

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike. We did an out and back stopping at Upper Holland Lake. The mosquitoes were bad the first mile or so so make sure to have bug repellent. The out trip is mostly up hill so it will take you longer going out than back. Views along the trail were outstanding. Upper Holland lake was very serene. 4.5 Stars.

So I will break it down, when you get to the “T” in the trail take a right!! The main attraction to this trail is Jenny Lake which is a grunt to get up. After taking a right at the “T” you will make a pretty strenuous climb before making a slight descent into the lake. We saw a moose, no bear scat, but definitely in bear territory. Hope you all have fun, I wish they would change the name to Jenny Lake Trl. rather than Dorris Cr. Trl.

hiking
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

quiet and be ready for a swim

hiking
Friday, August 18, 2017

This is pretty much just a workout hike. no destination (lake, mt. view) per the description. At the end, the trail comes to a T intersection with no information where this leads. We passed hikers on our way down that said if you go right at the T for a mile and a half it leads to Jenny Lake and two small Doris Lakes for fishing. That would be useful information to include in the trail description, but that makes it about 5 miles one way to a lake, but at least you can camp and have a destination per se, rather than just a long uphill slog with little in the way of panoramic views. Lots of scat, but no bear/cat sightings. Some huckleberries. Would not do this hike again.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Oh my goodness, this trail has it all. I was worried about bears so I made a lot of noise and saw no wildlife. A lady I met on the trail said she saw mountain goats though. All of the lakes are spectacular. Crater lake it by far the best. So secluded and peaceful. The trail is a bit hard to follow and overgrown in just a few places. Coming out was much easier to follow and very strenuous. Well worth every step though. The views are some of the best I have seen. Do not sell yourself short and stop at Birtch Lake, Crater is well worth the extra hike!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Beautiful hike. We took our dog and loved it. Only one side note: we decided to do this on our drive from Swan Lake to Glacier National Park while towing our travel trailer. The road is narrow, dirt, and eventually reaches a pretty steep drop off the side towards the end. It's a great hike, just do it before you head to your next destination and leave the trailer. Also, there was plenty of snow left in the first mile of the hike.

hiking
Thursday, July 28, 2016

The first 5 miles in was beautiful. The last mile to the lake is not well marked and the trail is overgrown. We didn't make it all the way to the shores of the lake, but we could see it.
We did stop at Birch Lake on our way in, lots of people fishing and we watched a few people catch some.

hiking
Sunday, June 26, 2016

Great hike with awesome views. Please be considerate though and do not feed the mountain goats up there though as cute as they may be.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Roughly 5 miles out and back. Trail head is easy to get to and there's plenty of room to park. The trail starts off pretty wide and easy going then climbs. In May there was a lot of snow left but it was still pretty easy to make it to the top. Beautiful, definitely worth the trip.

hiking
Tuesday, July 08, 2014

We did this hike at the beginning of July. This year (2014) it hasn't been a very warm summer so far. The trail was covered by snow almost the whole way once you hit Birch Lake. We did miles of side-hilling in the snow, which any hiker knows can be pretty rough! We may not have made it without ice cleats and trekking poles, there was about 5 feet of snow at most spots. I can't really speak to the trail because it was difficult to follow with the snow so we tried to just find the easiest way to go through the snow... The trail was pretty washed out in some of the spots where it could actually be seen due to the snow melt. We did run in to black flies on the way there (at Birch) so if you take your dog make sure to use pet safe bug repellent on them! The lake is incredibly beautiful and there's an awesome little island to sit and fish off of. We only got a few casts in then had to head back... It's a great trip!!!

hiking
Thursday, July 21, 2011

I use this trail for day hikes (looping back on Graves Creek Trail) It offers great views of the whole of the Jewel Basin. A few miles follow the tongue Mountain and are narrow and rocky, but the trail is in solid condition. Down side is there is a lot of traffic in the day time, but the southern exposure along the mountain means great moon light at night. There was significant over growth form Clayton Lake to Graves Creek Trail, about 1.5 miles of it.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

on Sapphire Lake

hiking
5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

on Crater Lake

hiking
5 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

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