Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge

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Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a 13.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Great Falls, Montana that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 13.9 miles Elevation Gain: 200 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

wheelchair friendly

stroller friendly


nature trips

road biking


bird watching


partially paved


wild flowers




washed out

Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge covering 12,383 acres is located on the western edge of the northern Great Plains, 50 miles east of the Rocky Mountains and 12 miles north of Great Falls. Benton Lake is a 5,000-acre pot hole wetland created by continental glaciers thousands of years ago. Over 6,000 acres of intact, northern mixed-grass prairie provide annual habitat for grassland birds for fall and spring migration and breeding. Waterbird use on the Refuge is highest during fall and spring migration periods both in wet and dry periods. As more of the basin is flooded in both the spring and fall, critical migration habitat is provided as stopover areas for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, and other species of birds of prey, songbirds, rails, and blackbirds.

This is 100% a drive (or possibly bike) only trail. I hiked it for 10 miles, and it’s just walking down a gravel road. A few people stopped and asked if I needed help, since it is infrequently you used for hiking. There is prime water fowl watching if that is your jam. I drove here from Helena, and was disappointed, but still did the walk/hike since I did the drive. No shade, decent breeze.

scenic driving
Sun Nov 11 2018

Saw wildlife every time. Saw a beautiful owl and hawk this time. Walked out onto the little boardwalk. Was cold, but gorgeous.

Sat Sep 01 2018

Great afternoon outing. Trails are not person or car specific so you can choose either. Highly recommend driving and heading out onto the boardwalk.

Sun Aug 26 2018

We weren’t exactly sure where to park so we just went to the loop. Was pretty. Dog enjoyed it. Several dead birds on the trail. Nice change close to town

scenic driving
Sun Jul 15 2018

had planned to walk this with my kids, but the weather didn't cooperate and when we got there we saw a sign advising us that we are in bear country and bear spray was recommended. I would have brought some had i known this sooner. so we drove instead. we mostly saw ducks and just a few other birds. the wildflowers were pretty. we're did walk out on the boardwalk and my kids saw an otter they said. the visitors center was closed due to staffing issues.

bird watching
Tue Jul 18 2017

This is good for seeing a variety of birds. My family and I saw snow geese, a prairie falcon, and plenty of loons.

Sat Jul 01 2017

Tons of wildlife. Nice walk, little bit swampy like during spring/summer though (bring the bug spray!)

ohv/off road driving
Sat Dec 03 2016

Didn't hike just drove through. saw an owl and coyote.

11 days ago

11 months ago

Fri Nov 04 2016

bird watching
Sun Dec 23 2012