Explore the most popular lake trails in Gallatin 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.

Great hike. Kids did it well. Beautiful when we got to the lake

Beautiful loop but somehow we missed where we were supposed to “loop” around. Signage was poor. Another hiker we met felt the same and had also missed the loop. But in missing it we went further up the trail and were treated to a surprise of green flowered alpine meadows and mountain vistas unsurpassed by any I’ve seen. Reminded me of hikes I once did in the Swiss alps.

5 days ago

I fell a couple miles short of the lake before I turned around (talked to others at the trailhead who did the same) there's still a considerable amount of snow/it was too deep for me. Wear boots, the way up is gorgeous and challenging for hikers wanting to get into better shape!

Wonderful trail- all uphill for 3 miles. The rocks were somewhat challenging at times. The view of the lake was spectacular. Much easier on the return since it was all downhill. The river running by the trailer is beautiful and very serene. It took us three hours total

Absolutely stunning the whole way through. Very rocky trail, but worth every step once you get to the lake!

8 days ago

Great views at the lake, but getting up was sorta difficult due to the trail being snowed over, but if you follow the creek, you'll find it, very worth it (btw went on June 8 was still snowy)

Love lava lake! Trail is very rocky. Lots to do at the lake like hiking around it, up to the ridge, or cliff jumping.

10 days ago

decent hike but not great. the views are obstructed all the way up. the trail is littered with fallen trees and atv tracks. the snow was also pretty deep when I went last week. the lake at the top is pretty

12 days ago

Rough rode to travel up too the trail head, definitely want something that sits up higher than a car. We had just taken the road right after a rain shower and it was slick.

The trail was good, still quite a bit of snow towards the top but not bad to hike through! Gorgeous views once you get to the lake!


12 days ago

6/7/18 still had some snow along parts of the trail, but well packed down and fairly easy to trek across. Great views at the top.

16 days ago

Tried hiking to Blue Lake on 6/1. Made it three miles in and had to turn around because the snow was too deep. It was hard to stay on the trail because there were no signs and the snow covered any path! Would suggest waiting a few more weeks. The views of the Crazies were still amazing just wish more of the snow had melted so we could have gone farther! The last few miles of the road to Half Moon Campground are very rocky BTW.. Would definitely suggest a 4WD car/ a car with a high clearance.

I hiked to the lake with intention of doing some fishing. My opinion is it’s hard to fish because there is no “shore”. Either trees or boulders right down to the lake. Beautiful hike and lake, it was worth the trip and would go again. Found out later that there are shrimp in the lake that the fish are feeding on, hence the reason why they wouldn’t take to a dry fly.

Beautiful trail along Cascade Creek to Lava Lake. We hiked this trail in early June and Cascade Creek was amazing flowing full of snow melt runoff. Lava Lake was tranquil and beautiful sitting below the snow-covered Spanish peaks.

The trail was very busy with people and dogs. Recommend getting an early start to beat the crowds.

20 days ago

Not that it was a bad little hike, but the lake wasn't too great. Myself and a couple friends camped overnight and we sunk our food in watertight bags into the lake and when we woke up leaches were attached....Not that we had planned on swimming but I would advise against it. There are plenty of hikes I'd go back to but I don't think this is one of them.

Good hike and not too long. parts of the hike have pretty obscured views but overall it is a good hike.

We made it to about 1 mile from the summit due to snow. It was deep and hard to climb in. Views are stunning and it was peaceful. Decent inclines.

mountain biking
23 days ago

This is a pretty fun/short route to ride. Can get busy with people so it is great to bike during the morning.

5/26/2018 Moderate to difficult hike with full gear for backpacking. Spent two hours after getting to the lake to find a nice camping spot far enough away from the lake to have a fire. The fishing wasn’t great, used worms, spinners, spoons, and improvised jigs but no luck. Also did not see many fish. Extremely difficult to get around the lake clockwise due to fallen tree and rock climbing. Was not able to cross the creek to get to the other side (counterclockwise) due to high water. It looked really nice across the lake, may be easier with less water later in the season. With all of this is was still a great hike, probably wouldn’t go with the intentions of fishing or camping again though.

Love this trail - the lake is beautiful, the hike up is awesome, with wild berries along the way, streams crossing. In summer, when it's warmed up, the lake is the best place to jump in & swim across for a "wilderness challenge"! One of the best in the area for sure!!

Nice hike. Trail got a little slippery because of snowmelt and a light rain.

Loved the trail but be prepared for stepping over rocks the whole way!

1 month ago

First it's important to note there are 3 trail heads in the parking area. Bear Canyon is down the road a bit more, the parking area is directly in front of New World Gulch and another trail. I took New World Gulch by accident for a little while, I turned around after a ton of snow, mud, slush, and eventually a stream too big to cross....mostly because I had on trail runners instead of full hiking boots. The snow and water made it hard for me to find the trail and keep on the trail.

Bear Canyon was a great trail until I needed snow shoes. I was knee deep in snow and had to turn around (again!). Easy trail to follow. More open than the New World Gulch trail.

Early morning was empty. Quite busy by the time I came down around 1pm . Lots of climbers headed to a crag.

Beautiful hike, we went beginning of April so there was still a lot of snow and trails were icy in spots. I can’t imagine how beautiful it is in the summer!

Pretty great hike! My 9 year old daughter hiked this trail with me. I was surprised considering the grade and 7.1 mile out and back! This is a beautiful hike with a pretty little lake at the top! Bring bear spray. Wear layers and have a water pack if you’re going in the warm weather and of course, snacks. You’ll want to hang out at the top for a while and enjoy the view! Wild flowers galore. Very pretty hike!

Pretty hike up to Lava Lake. The route is a nice, casual incline throughout the entirety.

3 months ago

It is eight miles! Not 7.5 lol. It was just absolutely breathe taking. We went in October so we didn't have as many access to the lake as we wanted.

3 months ago

Beautiful area, we went to the area to summit Crazy Peak and camp near the lake!

Made this hike on a weekday in August 2000 (5 stars) and then again on a weekend in 2016 (4 stars). I would not do it again on a weekend due to the heavy trail use.
The moderate hike is very tolerable due to the shade. My legs grew more tired from the descent than the climb.
If you like wildlife, golden mantled ground squirrels and american pika are around when it's quiet. It was a lot of fun to watch them. The lake is gorgeous with the talus slopes and peaks in the distance.

4 months ago

We left "The Dead Indian Creek Trail", and stayed overnight in Cooke City. We then started on the Cooke City side. Parking was plenty. There is zero parking cost, part they are not responsible for any damage or theft to your vehicle. There is a picnic area here, along with a toilet. Beautiful waterfall, and neat history if you just wanted to see a roadside stop. We backpacked to Rock Island lake. Our campground was gorgeous, along with the view. It was not a bad jaunt, if you are looking for a quick place for experience. We had a huge moose walk passed our hammocks at about 3:00 a.m. The stomps were amazing, on top of waking up scared as hell knowing there was that huge animal passing by. We woke up to see him still in the lake splashing. Simply Amazing. I would love to come back and actually do the trail itself. We were told we were making a mistake going this time of year because mosquitos just hatched. THEY WERE NOT LYING. Being from Minnesota, we thought we were used to them. They were unbelievable, although with the proper clothing, never really were bitten. We were also told we would hit a lot of snow....we had a few patches but nothing to really even walk on.

6 months ago

So much fun!!! The view was well worth it!!

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