Explore the most popular wild flowers trails in Kootenai 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.

on Lake Estelle Trail

hiking
17 hours ago

Nice trail, beautiful lake.
Long drive up a gravel and rock road, about 18 miles. The road is clear of snow and completely navigable today, June 17th. You’ll want a vehicle with some clearance. We were fine in a 2wd F150. The trail is at least 3 miles to Lake Estelle,seemed longer. Trail still has stretches of crusted snow, and plenty of water from melting snow on the trail. We were fine with regular hiking shoes but a waterproof shoe with Trax would be ideal for the next couple of weeks. There were several trees down across the trail. Great dog trail, we brought two. Nice spring flowers along the trail, great views the last 1/3 of the way to Estelle.

The only wildlife we saw was a moose on the drive in the Pack River, a weasel (pine martin?) and a few pikas. Recommend carrying a can of bear spray. Tried a few casts for trout on Lake Estelle, but there was absolutely no action. The lake and views were worth the drive and hike.

hiking
21 days ago

Awesome spring view of falls. Well worth the wading through the crowd of people kids & dogs to get to the “real” hike. No snow in trail today. You must be comfortable in using GPS because several spots you need to go “off trail” to find a log to walk across to get across the creeks.

This is one of the most memorable hikes by far!!! It starts in the parking lot your amazed by the view of the trail head “seriously breathtaking!!” Trail is clear and easy to navigate....until! Haha we ran into snow the trail disappeared luckily my wife noticed one other persons “footprints” going in. The snow was hard packed but at least 3 ft deep in some areas. I am 200 lbs my wife is 105 and got a kick out of me kept falling into holes up to my knees! We went about another mile in total of 2.5 at this time my wife had an encounter with a cow moose she spooked it ran to me and it ran up the hill after coming towards her. Lots of fallen cedars to take cover at this time we jumped on one and waited 10 minutes after we went back on trail at this time roughly 2.7 miles in the trail is washed out from the creeks over run from snow. We got to the final creek crossing and couldn’t cross due to the time we had and how high the water was. We returned back easy to back track with our foot marks in the snow. We got back. Will deff do this hike again. Highly recommend if you want to do all that you wait until at least end of may to middle of June. 5 stars for the views!

nice hike, trail hasn't been worked on this year.

hiking
9 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous, scrambled up to Dome mountain which made the hike about 21 miles round trip. definitely worth It!

An easy trail with excellent huckleberries. The lake warms up in late August!

hiking
9 months ago

Awesome trail. Great views. We saw 2 bears and a moose.

A wonderful and breathtaking hike!

backpacking
11 months ago

Firstly, I will say that my 5 star is actually more of a 4.7. The hike was a gradual and steady climb with only a few steep parts that were barely 100 meters in length. While shaded 90% and near Cedar creek up to the lakes, be prepared for the dry and exposed mile and a half up to the ridge. With a moderate enjoyable hike along the creek and breathtaking scenery at the ridge, the only downside to this trail was the mosquitoes at the lakes. If you are just going on a day hike and don't stay near the lakes for too long, then the bugs are not a terrible experience, however if you are staying the night as I did (7/8/17-7/9/17) I would highly encourage camping as far away from the lakes as possible. While the bugs eventually went away around 10 PM, they were sitting on the netting outside of my tent waiting to greet the pups and I. Overall, I highly recommend this trail as the sights are beautiful and the trail is a great experience however, don't be a fool like me and neglect to bring bug spray.

We did this trail last week and camped at upper cedar lake. Steady climb up. It's breathtaking. However the mosquitos and flys were terrible. Worst I've ever seen here. We went up trail 360N around Dome mountain the next day and camped on the ridge line. They were a little better but still swarmed dawn and dusk. Still a lot of snow to cross up high. It's a fantastic hike with spectacular scenery.

hiking
11 months ago

Nice hike well worth the effort with a rewarding view of this beautiful mountain lake.

hiking
Sunday, June 18, 2017

The cedars are enormous and beautiful. We didn't hike very much of the area, maybe 3 or 4 miles total since we started late in the day, but I want to come bike and hike the whole thing! This is an easy walk. And the creek is gorgeous!

hiking
Monday, June 12, 2017

Forest Service road about halfway to trailhead is washed out due to an avalanche, trailhead is not reachable June 2017.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It is almost ready for the year!! There were only a few trees down and they were all ones you can step over!! There is still a lot of snow above the lower lake and up to the divide trail.

hiking
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Breathtaking. You feel small walking among those trees.

hiking
Thursday, December 01, 2016

This place is unforgettable, when hiking in and around the giant cedars you'll think you stepped back in time. Very easy to hike, sometimes it can become busy but most of the times your alone in the cedars.

hiking
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Great moderate hike with a stunning variety of views.

hiking
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

This hike goes through an old growth cedar ecosystem. It is a easy 2.8 miles to the first main creek crossing from the Ross Creek Cedars parking lot. After crossing the creek it is a short distance to the junction of trail 321 and 142.. Trail 321 heads up the south fork to the water fall. The last section is pretty steep and the tread reworked this summer. You go through a section that burned in 2015. The crew did a lot of work and a great job. I would rate the waterfall a 6 of 10. It is probably more spectacular earlier in the season. I had 4 miles on my gps to the water fall from the parking lot.

fishing
Monday, August 29, 2016

Lots of fish and the trail was pretty easy except the last mile which was pretty steep. Trail was well maintained

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Nice trails. Well maintained and good signage

hiking
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

With the traverse of the screw slope this trail should be rated difficult

backpacking
Thursday, August 11, 2016

this is an awesome hike for families with youth! the huckleberry picking was huge:-)
the usual road to get there was washed out and closed. so take Trestle Creek Road until it connects back to Lightning Creek Road. the signage is great! the last two miles are very rough. I would suggest a 4 wheel drive

hiking
Saturday, July 30, 2016

It was great!! The first part is really easy. The last mile pretty is rough. The trail crew was out working on it. The waterfall was nice but I would rate it a 6 out of 10.

backpacking
Monday, June 20, 2016

The Forest Service has a decent map of all of the trails connected in the area that you can pick up in the Libby office. The "knowledgeable" employees were all "in training" when we got there, so a kindly temp and office worder gave us a printout of trail info and I helped myself to map. The FS printout lists this trail as 500 feet vertical, so we chose it. Of course, it is actually 3000 feet if you study the map. Your tax dollars at work. Camping at upper lake is ok but close to water. You will want to try to keep your footprint minimal and not tear branches off live trees for your fire. Use the dead branches or just go up the ridge trail a few hundred yards and collect blow-down wood for your fire. Day hiking from upper lake is great--you can go 2 directions with great views. The trail to the lake is a steady climb with lots of blow-down in a 1-mile stretch just inside wilderness boundary. Keeps out the horsy crowd. Mosquitos increase when you leave the hemlock-cedar forest in lower part. Would rate a 5 but the trail itself is a bit tiresome.

backpacking
Saturday, June 18, 2016

Moderate blowdown in the wilderness area. Snow still blocking the trails above the lakes. Beautiful scenery.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tons of trees down still... Barely any snow at the lower lake no though.

camping
Sunday, October 04, 2015

Great spot. We planned on doing the whole loop over three days, but stuck to exploring Bear lakes. The hike into the lakes from the Bear Lake side has some good elevation gains, but nice and varied landscape. Middle Bear Lake provides an amazing overlook from the scree field above the lake. Good scrambles up scree fields and ridge lines. Didn't see a ton of wildlife. Went last weekend of September 2015.

camping
Friday, August 14, 2015

A great hike for families with children. It's almost 20 miles in from the highway to the trailhead, but the road was in good shape and well signed. It is a gentle climb most of the way, with lots of shade but also a few spots with expansive views. We went straight to Estelle and did not go to either Blacktail or Moose lake. There was one other car at the trailhead and we met the couple coming down. They said they'd camped at Moose lake and had a snorting moose close to their campsite overnight.

With children (7 and 9) carrying like packs we stopped probably six times for water/snacks. There were a couple of places with trickling water, but we started out with enough to get us to the lake. It took us about 3 hours to get there, but again we had lots of stops and were chatting the whole way.

After curving around and making a final small elevation gain we reached the beautiful lake. There is room to camp right at the end of the trail next to the lake, but 3-4 other sites to the right, crossing the outlet stream. There are fire rings but restrictions were in place. The lake was crystal clear we spent most of the rest of the day swimming, floating around on driftwood we pulled in, and sunning ourselves on the rocks. We explored a bit along the shore but were pretty happy to hang out.

The fish began to jump in the late afternoon and we lost the sun behind the mountain around 6. A couple on a day hike arrived around 5 and spent about an hour, but we were alone the rest of the time. After hanging our food (bear country), we spent a quiet night and headed back down the next morning. It was an hour faster going down (2 hours) than coming up but we were not moving very fast.

This was a great hike for our family and we would do it again. We saw a moose and black bear on the road a few miles before the trailhead, but made lots of noise on the trail so no large mammals to report.

horseback riding
Thursday, January 08, 2015

These are two separate trails. The trail heads are about 25 yards apart. Scenery is the first, then Cedar Lakes comes right after. If you choose the Cedar Lakes trail bring your bear spray, lots of huckleberry's. Grizzley bears have been reported in the area. Cedar lakes follows Cedar creek most the way, its in the shade and beautiful walk. A slight grade the entire way, that will get your legs and lungs a workout. Upper Cedar Lake is spectacular. A small primitive campsite, right on the lake,.
Scenery Mountain trail, is a old logging road, if the gate is open it will save you a few miles of climbing, the view is great along the road, once on the actual trail, it follows the ridge. No water on this trail, and if its summer you will be in the sun on the road portion.

hiking
Thursday, August 07, 2014

29 August 2014

Great hike. Directions had us take Cedar Creek Road off of Highway 2, between Libby and Troy. Mild Forest Service Road in excellent condition. Trailhead was marked a mile or two up the road with ample parking.

Hike was a steady climb to both Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes. You gain more than half the elevation in the first couple miles of the hike, with the very beginning being the steepest. Trail was very clean all the way up and at no point did we lose the trail (though the junction with Upper Cedar Lake isn't marked, its fairly obvious). Huckleberries were all along the trail, with the majority being after you pass the Wilderness boundary. If you get off trail there are even more to find amongst the thick vegetation.

Lower Cedar Lake was the first point we noticed the mosquitos. The main campsite is right as the lake is first revealed. We found a second spot, to the left and back by the marshy area on some rocks over looking the lake to hang our hammocks. We found plenty of driftwood for a fire and this kept the mosquitos mostly at bay along with a slight breeze that came from being on higher ground. The lower campground was occupied and was thick with mosquitos when we came through. Fish jumped all evening and the other parties had some success with flies. All night and into the morning we had deer and elk crashing the woods and brush around us.

We headed up to Upper Cedar Lake in the morning expecting a four mile hike (misprint in guidebook) - however it was only about another half a mile up the trail. There were plenty of camping spots throughout the area. To the left you'll find where the lake spills into a creek, down a mountainside and into the Lower Lake. To the right you'll start heading farther along the trail, higher above Upper Cedar Lake. Great shoreline for fishing without too much brush where you first come to the lake. The farther you go in either direction the more brush you'll find. Fish were jumping all day (even midday). They showed no interest in lures but would bite just about anything on top of the water. Dome Mountain looms large over both the lakes. Crystal clear water, refreshing in mid-summer. Mosquitos didn't care how much DEET you had on and were a pain throughout the day. When they weren't biting the flies were. However, neither was enough to ruin what was a great hike and a fantastic area to explore and spend the day.

So far as wildlife goes: We ran into adolescent moose both days on the trail. Elk crashed through the marsh in the early morning. Deer banged all night. Wolves talked to one another in early evening.We saw no signs of bear activity (though that means nothing overall).

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