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Canyon Lake Trail is a 10.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Hamilton, Montana that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 10.7 mi Elevation gain 2,729 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Nature trips

Bird watching

Forest

Lake

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Muddy

Over grown

Rocky

Scramble

Snow

Description
Waypoints (2)

Trail starts out as a nice "up the canyon" hike, but, at about 3.5 miles in, one suddenly hits a quite steep ascent (about 1,500ft within just over a mile), then a slight descent to the gorgeous Canyon Lake.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (99)
Photos (67)
Recordings (46)
Completed (153)
Herma Chanin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
HikingGreat!RockyScramble
View Herma's Recording
Matt R
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 10, 2020
HikingOver grownRockyScramble

7/10/2020 Hike: Whoa! This was a tough one! If you’re not in great shape and relentlessly adventurous, then look elsewhere! Also, 8.4 miles is grossly underestimated. This app had me at 10.7 miles and my other app showed 11.4 miles. Even the sign at the trail head says 5 miles to the lake. The trail needs corrected to show someone’s recording and not a series of straight lines. Started this hike around 8 am on a Friday. I was the second car in the lot and it was packed when I got back in the afternoon. The drive up wasn’t nearly as white knuckly as the Bear Creek overlook drive I did earlier in the week. There were some light showers overnight, which made for some damp trekking through the overgrown trails. It was hard to see where I was walking at times with all the encroaching plants. I was glad to be wearing pants, but they were soaked along with my shoes and socks before long. The trail overall wasn’t too hard to follow until you approach the final rocky climb to reach the lake. I was extra cautious after reading other reviews when I started climbing the rocky part. I made sure to leave some rock cairns, broken twigs, and sticks to help guide me back down. I got slightly off course on the way up but was able to pick the trail back up. I also started to stray off course on my way back from the lake before the decent, but double checked my recording on the app and was able to get back to the red line where I came up. The lake was beautiful! I had the place to myself. It’s crystal clear and there were no bugs. It was definitely worth the arduous hike to get there. Would I do it again? Probably not lol.

View Matt's Recording
Hannah Blackmore
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 3, 2020
HikingMuddyOff trailOver grownRocky

Treacherous hike. ***Only for experienced hikers***

Gracie Schwenk
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 2, 2020
MuddyOver grownRockyScramble

Whew! What a hike. Took us about 6 hours with a 4,000 foot elevation gain. Clocked in exactly at 5 to the lake but got a little lost coming back so ended up with 10.58 miles. The hike was more difficult than I expected. The first 3 miles are moderate, but at 3.5 it was quite strenuous. I run collegiate cross country and was huffing and puffing the whole last half mile. The footing is terrible and it almost feels like you're not making any progress because you're moving so slow. We pushed through and made it to the lake. It was SO beautiful. So worth the HARD climb. It was really windy at the top so bring warmer clothes even in July. I recommend gloves and a hat for the top. As I mentioned, we got lost on the way down because the trail kind of hard to follow. Half of the time I didn't know if we were on the trail or hiking up a creek because there was so much water runoff. Bring extra socks. Only attempt this hike if you are an experienced hiker and make sure to bring some sort of map. You'll want to quit the last mile and a half, but just know it is so worth it. I felt like I was in Glacier seeing the lake. One more tip, start this hike in early morning on a day where only sunshine is in the forecast. Happy trails!

Kayla Neuharth
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 28, 2020
BugsOver grownRocky

Superb hike! The hike took us about six hours including a lunch break at the lake! the incline is a doozy, but totally worth the views of the lake and canyon below. Make sure to follow the cairns, especially on the way down because it can be easy to lose track of the trail. Not too buggy. Over grown most of the trail.

Dawn Malcolm
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 24, 2020
Hiking

Let me preface this by saying that I consider myself and intermediate hiker. I read all the reviews and knew what I was getting into. However, the app states that it’s an 8.4 mile out and back hike. I recorded it at 12.6 miles out and back. That’s quite a bit longer!!!! I would also say the first part of the trail is not what I would consider easy. There are inclines of various difficulty, many rocks and fallen trees to contend with. As others have said, it is challenging to follow the trail when you get closer to the lake. We actually did ok going in, it was coming back down from the lake that we had trouble finding the trail. I’d leave rock cairns going in if they aren’t already there. Be sure you’re confident in your navigational skills at that point. Overall, there are beautiful views and it’s worth the hike if you’re intermediate or better. Be prepared for a much longer hike than is stated in the trail info though.

View Dawn's Recording
Leigh Isaacson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 14, 2020
HikingBlowdownRockyScramble

Great hike! The first 3-4 or so miles are uneventful except for the raging creek, great views of canyon walls, and enormous scattered boulders. The trail meanders with a gradual uphill, skirts a few talus fields, and is rocky so watch those ankles. The next mile section leads up and out of the canyon bottom starting with switchbacks becoming steeper and shorter. Then it’s mostly a steep scramble up the last .5-.25 mile. Big elevation gain in this mile and the view is worth it. Unfortunately we didn’t get to the lakes. We only reached just below Romney ridge before we had to turn around due to inclement weather rolling in. We were very glad we did as it began to downpour when we got to the canyon bottom. The scramble down would have been pretty sketchy. May be helpful to note that 1) we met a few folks who said they had a hard time finding the descending trail down to the lakes so they had turned around, and 2) we had two gps trackers that gave different mileage...we figure it was about 8.5-9 miles round trip without the lake decent.

Evan Kirby
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 22, 2020
HikingOff trailSnow

Amazing hike, trail disappeared into the snow about half a mile in, followed the right canyon wall and trail blazer log cuttings, tree marks the rest of the way. half a quarter mile to the lake it gets very steep, way to much snow to proceed further without risk. my dog luci came alonge and had a blast! (she loves snow)

Shauna Nelson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 23, 2020
BlowdownBugsOver grownRocky

The trail was definitely moderate to hard. the hardest part of it for me was going back down. It's really hard on the knees. But if you are prepared for that it's all good. Beautiful hike and the lake (late June is when we did it) was beautiful. Crystal clear. We took a dip and soaked our joints for awhile before heading back down. It's a must hike trail!

Alicia Fassio
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 15, 2019
HikingOver grownRockyScramble

The aforementioned dead moose on trail, is now a pile of hair, do not be fooled this isn’t fancy pine needles. It’s hair, and one leg. Easy to get lost, because it’s over grown, if you like being a mountain goat and hopping rocks and jumping over trees it’s perfect for you. Honestly it’s a tough one, it’s steep, walking poles helped dramatically. If you’re going to do this I suggest going early in the morning it’s a day hike. I’m talking a full 7-8hrs (lunch included). The lakes are beautiful.

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