Explore the most popular lake trails in Kaniksu 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.

14 days ago

Very beautiful trail and great scenic views! walking to the lake is worth it because of the views, not so much the lake. I recommend bringing extra shoes!

15 days ago

Great hike but a little early on day 2 of June. There was 5 creek crossings and just one I had to remove the boots and socks being around knee deep in freezing run off :) glad I brought my poles. Nice single trek trail with sun and shade couple of Cedar Groves blow downs, thorns, brush, snow just about everything you would want in a good hike and some great scenery. In places on the last leg before the lake the snow is still a few feet deep and just a little clearing at the lake ( beginning of the creek ) No other people it was great!

21 days ago

I tried to do this hike today. The road is still snowed over about 9 miles from the trail head. I'd give this another 2-3 weeks before trying.

1 month ago

Favorite hike ever.

8 months ago

My GPS recorded our journey on this trail (#924) at 10.06 miles from the Mckay Creek Rd. TH to the lake campsite. A demanding 20 miles round trip. The NFS sign at the TH claims it's 9 miles to Wanless Lake.

The first 2.35 miles will have your heart pumping and then the slope moderates from that point to about the 4 mile mark. From there to Goat Peak and the Ntl Forest boundary for Kanisku and Kootenai (6.6 miles) the trail slope and features are varied. With a 35lb pack and snow coming into play at 5200 ft, reaching a depth of ~6" at 6400 ft, JoRayne and I were on the trail for 7.5 hrs. About an hour of that time was for breaks.

Once we arrived at Goat Peak we considered climbing the rocky monster but the snow covered slope, mostly boulders and loose rock, would have made the attempt for the summit treacherous so we pushed on toward Wanless Lake.

We wandered down the snow covered trail to the upper lake and beyond; along the way seeing various animal paw (cat and Bear) and hoof (Moose and deer) prints in the snow. A bear also left its partially digested meal on the trail for us to see...croiky! One enormous windfall tree blocked the trail just short of the camp sites.

The lake was calm and the surrounding mountains make you feel really small. We had the place to ourselves and the night was peaceful and dry.

**We did not have access to water until we dropped into the canyon from Goat Peak ridge.

on Wanless Lake

8 months ago

Great first back packing trip! Beautiful views at the top, hard climb but great trail!

8 months ago

The description of the trail included above is accurate. Plenty of wind-falls across the mid-section of the trial. Yeah, It's a calorie burner. 3.5 hrs in and 2.5 hrs on return to my truck. Bummer, JoRayne couldn't make this trip :(

No goats at the peak. Some Elk along the way at 5,200 ft. Nice weather and minimal wildfire smoke. Worth your time and energy.

Awesome trip! We backpacked in on 9/1/17 and did an overnight. Only wildlife was a bull moose across the creek at lower trail. The lake is well worth the incline of the last 2.5 miles. Great campsite by the lake. We had it to ourselves. Beautiful - beautiful make sure you get this ecoerienxe

9 months ago

Access trail can be easy to miss both by car and on foot. The washed out creek on the forest road is inaccessible to most non modified SUVS, cars, and Vans. A large truck could cross, but thankfully the trailhead is not too far from this point. The trailhead itself starts on the uphill side of a dis-used forest service road, so if you have crossed the creek on a vehicle wide bridge, you have gone too far. The trail itself is long and has some rocky sections, but is partially shaded and the overall incline/ascent is significant but gradual. You will run into lots of overgrown bushes, some of which have thorns, but various berries are widely available trail side depending on season. The creek that you follow flows out of spar lake itself, so it serves as a valuable navigation point should you become lost. The biggest hazards in warm weather are slipping risk and exposed roots and hidden rocks. Tread carefully, but the Lake Itself is more than worth it. Spar lake has a couple of excellent tent camping spots, and is mostly Alpine with little evidence of swampy shoreline. You will be rewarded with amazing views of the mountains surrounding the lake, and of the valley upon your return trip. Highly recommended for prepared hikers/backpackers. *Bear danger is high due to berry abundance. Take caution*

Very hard to get to trailhead. Approximately 16 miles on washboard rode. Trail is clean beautiful trees, lovely lake, you can make it a short 4 miles or add other hikes on.


After the washed out bridge and the initial trailhead, the path had ferns and wide-leaved thorny plants that when wet soaked our pants and cut our legs.

After crossing the river, the path climbs and become dry and has a shadowy canopy. Clear and quiet. Large ancient pines.

We crossed a few dry waterfalls, then found ourself on a ridge above the creek. Berry bushes line the last 2 miles of the path all the way to the lake.

The lake was undisturbed, sparsely improved, and unlittered except for heavy wear on the tree bark.

Many campsites spread throughout the lakeside.

The climb back down was even more beautiful. Hope you enjoy this trail as much as we did.

10 months ago

8 miles round trip. Pretty steep.

Great hike... vertical but worth the views at the top.

Great hike for kids and puppy! Both went for a swim in the lake. The drive up to the trail head is long and bumpy!

11 months ago

Moose lake is a beauty. Was unable to complete loop due to snow covering trail between Moose Lake and blacktail (think that was the trail name? which is part of the loop). Lost trail about halfway up mountainside and had to backtrack. Still a nice hike.

11 months ago

Super beautiful trail. The climb was really hard at the beginning. Once you got to the saddle it was down hill. A friend and I went on June 24th. We crested the saddle excited to start going down to the lake. Little did we know there was a ton of snow! The trail disappeared and after trying to make our way for an hour without the trail we turned around and climbed out. We camped just below Goat peak. We had a great time and look forward to going when there is no snow.

11 months ago

This out and back proved to be just under 10 miles round trip. One of my favorites so far. I want to come back and stay a night in a tent beside the lake. Waterfalls, River Crossings, Stream Wading, an old abandoned mine, and of course the alpine lake. This hike has it all!! Definitely a challenge on the vertical climb.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

about mile 14 up trestle creek there was a snow/landslide that is not possible except via atv.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Great hike! The trail has streams running along it in the early parts of the year and we always fill our canteens up in these so no need to bring a ton of water with you. The trail itself is pretty steep and you will think you're almost to the top when you really aren't.. It will play tricks on you like that. You can break the hike up into multiple days to make it less difficult and spend the night at the upper lake. The rainbow trout here are so delicious!!! There is snow here until late summer which may make it difficult if you hike early in the year, so always be prepared. We loved the hike and will do it again soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

We hiked this 10/9/16, great trail the view of moose lake from the ridge is outstanding. There were still some huckleberries left.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I completed this hike in late September. The color of the autumn leaves, and the scent in the air, was magical!

Think of this as two different hikes. The hike from the beginning of the trail head to the waterfall is a relatively easy hike with smooth paths, easy inclines, and nothing daunting for the casual hiker. The hike from the waterfall to the lake is a bit more challenging. About 20 meters from the waterfall, there is a trail heading eastward up the mountain. You might miss it at first, because you are looking at the AWESOME waterfall ahead. The trail is a switchback with some considerable elevation gain from the waterfall to the lake. The views from this point on are just amazing! The lake and surrounding mountains are stunningly beautiful.

I was hiking alone, and met a black bear coming down the trail. I moved aside, and it moved aside, and we got past each other without incident. (This is a grizzly habitat, so you might bring some bear spray and leave your picnic basket at home.)

The hike from the waterfall to the lake is well worth the effort to get to the top. This hike is going on to my list of favorites.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Extreme.... Good luck!

Monday, August 08, 2016

We hiked as much of this trail to take us from the Moose Lake trail head to Moose Lake for an overnight backpacking trip (2mi). The trail is very well marked and easy to hike (there was one blown out bridge that was easy enough to navigate). Huckleberry bushes line the trail for grazing. At the lake there is a nice fire ring and logs to sit on and there is a bear locker. No one else was there on a Friday after work. Take waterproof pants if there is any chance of rain due to low close bushes along the trail. Take care - it was dusk and just at the trail head we saw a mountain lion. Worth the drive in.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Easy 2 mile hike in, lake shallow around edge and bottom muddy but beautiful larger lake. Friends mother even caught 3 fish!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Great hike. Lots of viewpoints. A couple of mining buildings 5-6 bridges and a couple of water crossings without bridges. Extra pair of shoes was helpful. Day hikers saw a baby grizzly earlier in the day we only saw traces. Oh and only smart dog owners please. Not a fun way to end a hike. Enough said. 4 miles into the hike there is an amazing waterfall and old mining shaft. Kyle thanks so much for the tip on retracing and finding the trail on the side of the mountain. This is where the trail moves from mild to moderate. You gain a fair amount of altitude in the last 1.5 miles . I had a separate app running and it had a total of 11 miles out and back instead of the listed 10. It is worth every step. We had the lake to ourselves and this was on a weekend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Not bad for the first hike of the summer. There were a few trees down which had to be navigated but not too difficult. Didn't see any wildlife. There were a few anglers when we arrived. There was some unmelted snow drifts along the trail (early June)

Sunday, June 05, 2016

This is an easy hike in with a lot of options for side trips to surrounding lakes and ridge lines. I backpacked in during the first weekend of June and there were a lot of downed trees on the trail and a bit of snow still. There is a lot of great scenery with Lake Estelle, Gem and Blacktail lakes within a few miles off the main trail. This area is good for a day hike, overnight outing, or longer. Be prepared for the usual small flying annoyances (flies and mosquitos) and the occasional moose sighting. While in the area, be sure to check out Char Falls and the Lunch Peak lookout.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Spectacular!! Water was cold of course.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

It was a very long and tough hike. You will want to have at least 4 liters of water with you. This is a dry trail, that has the heat bouncing off of the rocks you are hiking up. So be prepared with lots of water, and make sure you start off well hydrated! The first part is approximately 5 miles straight up of switch backs. Once you get to the top of the ridge, it's absolutely breathtaking! Feels like you are on top of the world! Followed by four miles of switch backs down to Wanless lake. There is an upper lake about a mile down from the ridge, with camping spots. This is an extremely difficult trail. You will want to be in great shape for this one! Believe me! This trail will play with your mind... Be warned! You will think you are almost there, and you're nowhere close. This happens the whole hike! This hike definitely feels like it is wat more than 9 miles to Wanless lake. But, it really is only 9. I promise. And it's totally worth it!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Beautiful, easy trail. Great for the whole family.

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