Canyon Lake Trail

HARD 30 reviews
#10 of 43 trails in

Canyon Lake Trail is a 8.4 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, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

8.4 miles
2,680 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



nature trips





wild flowers

26 days ago

The entire hike up to the lake will take you a bit. The terrain gradually gets more difficult as you climb. There was a moment when we found ourselves off trail so pay attention to your turns and direction.

The views are tremendous and the lake is beautiful. Totally worth the hike. Bring lots of water and bear spray. The lake has ample space to camp on it's shores.

2 months ago

Really a beautiful hike. If you go out and back, you can probably do it in about 7 hours. But it’s tough the mile or so before the lake. Going downhill sucked after leaving the lake. Which is clean AF btw. Overall beautiful but may start hating life the last hour. I don’t hike that long very much!

2 months ago

Worth the steep part between miles 3.5 and 4.5. Glad I wore good over the ankle hiking boots.

2 months ago

Although the beginning of the hike is just another "up the canyon" hike, the real fun (and work!) starts about 3.5 miles in where you suddenly start a quite steep, exhilerating ascent (about 1,500 ft within about a mile), followed by a slight descent down to the drop-dead-gorgeous Canyon Lake. Although you hear Canyon Creek for most of the way, you don't actually get to see it, except at 0.5, 1, 2,, 3.5, and (at the lake) 5 miles in. Most of way is actually in shade. The trail seems to have been rerouted since the recording of the website track, since there are periodic deviations from this track, which may account for the fact that the round trip is closer to 10 miles than the 8.4 miles mentioned in the description.

3 months ago

Great trail lots of beautiful sights. Wish it was closer to the creek

3 months ago

Great trail with a huge payoff. A little route-finding and overgrown in places, but not bad. Canyon Lake is gorgeous! And perfect for a brisk dip. Recommend.

3 months ago

The destination has awesome views! The trail is a bit overgrown and could use some cleaning up and marking. Definitely need to pay close attention to stay on the trail.
•Bring sturdy hiking boots (LOTS of rocks)
•Bring lots of mosquito repellent (they were the worst I’d ever experienced)
•Bring GPS capable device
We had a very tough hike starting out around 2:30 in the afternoon in high 80’s. If hiking in the summer, early in the day would be a better idea.
Over all a great, physically challenging hike. I’d do it again under more favorable conditions.

Safe trekking!!

4 months ago


4 months ago

The hike up currently has a bunch of runoff on the trail for the first 3 miles or so. The last mile of the hike climbs completely through snow. The lake was definitely well worth the hike and looks absolutely terrific.

6 months ago

So, it was not too smooth in March, but it was a great view regardless and an intense workout.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Its a great hike, the trail gets a bit irritating at times but is easy to follow all the way to the lake. The last mile or so shoots straight up the canyon wall in a series of switch backs. i wouldnt recommend for amature hikers. The lake and views are well worth the hike. There were many waterfalls all around the lake. And like others have said, coming down is tricky, the trail is hard to follow and has many side trails.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Worth it with the waterfalls and beautiful lake!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Great hike! Busted out the climb after work and spent the last night of spring at the lake. Well worth the workout! Nice campsites

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Awesome hike. Trail is a bit difficult with rocks, roots and snags to navigate. Was well worth the sore body..

Friday, June 09, 2017

This hike is much further than the sign says. Be ready to have your ass handed to you! Very steep, but so worth the work.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

First 3.5 miles or so the trail runs through thick forest snaking alongside the river. From here it shoots up the canyon face and drops back down to the lake. This portion was surprisingly challenging. I had to traverse several snow fields along the last mile to get to the lake. Easy to lose the trail, especially with the melting snow. The lake views were totally worth it. Still frozen in early June, it was like stepping back into winter. Three nice campsites as well.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Took two attempts as I could not locate where the trail left off after reaching the waterfall the first time due to knee deep snow. The second time I was able to spot cairns marking the trail and blaze a trail through the snow to the lake. After a strenuous journey through the snow I finally reached the lake and it was well worth the effort. The scenery is mind blowing and well worth any effort required however might wait until late June or July to try this one out this year.

Friday, September 09, 2016

this hike to the lake is longer than 8 miles. the sign at the start of the hike indicates that the lake is 5 miles one way. the trail is relatively flat as it follows the river into the valley. however, it reaches a point where the trail goes nearly straight up dramatically. it follows the face of the mountain over the ridge to the lake.
the trail up the mountain is nearly all rock face. it can be hard to follow; follow the stacked "zen" rocks.
HUGE side note: on the return from the lake we lost the trail on the rock face. we back tracked a few times but was unsuccessful following the trail we took up. we ended up Bushwacking our way down the mountain, sliding down the rocks and scrambling boulders. once down the mountain we climbed over fallen trees listening to the sound of the river and eventually found the trail near the river. I would say that if you are doing this trail to be confident in your hiking abilities, scrambling, navigation, and trail finding skills. there was a moose in the area but we did not come across it, be alert of your surroundings.
we started at 12noon and finished at 7:45pm.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Not for rookies. While the first 3.5 miles are a reasonable slope, the final 1.5 miles will beat you up. As an experienced backpackers this one ranks as a hard trip. However, it is completely worth it when you get to the lake. There are 3 camp sites (close proximity to each other) right as you come to the lake.

Monday, June 06, 2016

great hike! few misleading paths but vary distinct main trail. The last 30-40min / 2mil. is pretty steep. nice little camp spot on the cliff before the lake. The Lake itself was worth the hike. highly recommend it. also first hour there is quite a few water access trails.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

In some places on the trail we got lost but we did find our way back on. When we were just getting to where we could see the canyon we lost the trail and never found our way to the lake. We saw a few bear tracks and heard something off in the distance. But I will go back and find the lake.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Beautiful hike. Not very easy on the last ~1.5 miles. Great fishing!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The first four miles is relatively unimpressive as you move along Canyon creek in a heavily forested valley floor with moderate elevation gain. Watch your footing throughout, there are a variety of obstacles, rocks, tree roots, washouts, etc, that can pose challenges for footing. The last couple miles climbs rapidly, roughly 1,500 vertical, and the trail becomes extremely rocky, so trekking poles are highly recommended. The view improve as you climb, culminating in a phenomenal high mountain lake and Canyon Mountain in the background. Very doable as a day hike; completed in four hours. Total statistics on my Garmin Fenix showed 11 miles and 3,500 feet of total elevation gain.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Decent day hike. Beautiful lake

Sunday, October 07, 2012

This is a great trail in the Bitterroots! It's a 10 mile out and back hike up to the lake. Canyon Lake Creek runs along the trail basically the entire length. It winds through pretty heavy forest and you will get a nice view of the rocky mountain tops along the way. The first 3 to 4 miles of the trail are decently easy but the last mile turns upwards quickly, gaining probably 1200 ft or so. All that work pays off once you reach the lake though. It's a beautiful lake with Canyon Peak hovering above it, which could be climbed after a night at the lake.

1 month ago

1 month ago

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Thursday, July 03, 2014