Crater Lake is a 10.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Bigfork, Montana that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, fishing, and backpacking and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length10.8 miElevation gain1,725 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashBackpackingCampingFishingHikingRunningForestLakeRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeBugsMuddyOver grown
Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities

As of June 01, 2020, users have reported that there are temporary closures in this area due to snow. Please consult the park's website before visiting. Limited parking is available at the Camp Misery Trailhead. Check in at the Rangers station. Bathrooms are available at the parking lot but NO water.

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Reviews (46)
Photos (299)
Recordings (30)
Completed (101)
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d o
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 8, 2020
Hiking
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Kylun Wall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 7, 2020
Hiking

crater lake is rough to get too. we stopped at birch.

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Jolene Curry
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 4, 2020
Hiking

Perfect weather in October. Several miles of narrow dirt road before the Misery Camp Trail. Drive slowly and watch for other cars. T We only went to Birch Lake and it was just right. Take a hiking stick if you can. There’s a narrow passage on the side of a mountain where a stick would help a great deal.

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Abigail Roston
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 3, 2020
HikingGreat!Over grownRocky

9/2/20 perfect time of year to be hiking this trail. There isn’t a lot of shade on the trail but the nice weather completely makes up for it. I would definitely recommend following all trails or a map as you make your way past Birch Lake and up to Crater Lake. The trail can be narrow, overgrown and slightly unclear at times. All in all, a fun way to see some lakes and enjoy the Jewel

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Bryan Holekamp
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 1, 2020
HikingPrivate property

I combined the hike to Crater Lake with the trek up Mount Aeneas. It was a scenic, partly cloudy day - but way too windy. The wind added a chill on the mountain when I broke above tree line and disturbed the otherwise calm lakes. In my opinion, hiking to Birch lake is sufficient. You can get all the good scenic lake views by sticking with the main trail along Birch lake. The trail around Birch Lake and to Crater Lake were partly overgrown. If you do go, wearing pants is a good idea. On the plus side, there were few bugs at either lake or on the mountain (Sep 1 and very windy). The views from Mount Aeneas were amazing. There is a good amount of parking (and a compost toilet) at the Camp Misery Trailhead. Still, try to arrive at the trailhead by 11:00 AM, as it fills up quickly. The road up does not require 4WD, but it is very bumpy in some sections.

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Stephanie Basaraba
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 18, 2020
HikingGreat!

Great hike, amazing views! Went mid-August (8/17/20) and had great weather with manageable (barely any) bugs. This seems to be the time to visit Montana, in general. Both Birch and Crater Lake are beautiful and have some of the cleanest water we have ever seen. Would highly recommend this hike.

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Kelly Bick
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Hiking
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Erica Hurt
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Backpacking

This trail was fantastic! Beautiful lake. WAY TO MANY FLIES. We camped at the end of the lake with intention to backpack to Crater Lake but they flies and mosquitos were so thick we ran out of bug spray and decided hike out in the morning. Minus the bugs, this trail is pretty moderate and absolutely gorgeous.

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Mike Tacchella
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 26, 2020
Walking

We only made it as far as Birch lake. Too much snow beyond that. Beautiful hike though! Some snow still as of 6/26, especially in the first mile but then mostly clear till you get to Birch.

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CW Clay
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 29, 2020
HikingClosedIcySnow

5/29/20- could not drive even to the parking lot. The Snow (2-3’) starts about .7 miles out from parking lot. Which means entire trail would also be snow. Do not go yet.

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Micah Ling
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 23, 2019
HikingOver grown

Awesome hike! The trail to Birch Lake is really nice and obviously well traveled. The last 2 miles to Crater are fairly over grown and tougher. As many have said, be sure to take the left around mile 5.2. There’s an outhouse and a lookout, and then a trail down to the lake. Clearest water I’ve ever seen. We started at 7:30am on a Friday, only a few cars that had been there overnight. We were out by 12:30 and the lot was overflowing. Several groups of kids getting ready to camp.

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Del Kauf
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 15, 2019
Hiking

About an half mile from Crater lake, the map tries to take you on an old overgrown trail that doesn't lead down to the lake. The real trail is up to the left, where there is a rocky overlook. It is easy to follow if you go this way.

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John Deel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2019
Hiking

very nice. It is a little difficult to find trail down to lake but definitely worth the effort. Started from trail head at about 645 am and only saw few campers at both Birch lake and Crater Lake. Back out about 1 on a Saturday and about 40 vehicles in lot...go early. Take a lunch and kick back by a beautiful lake.

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Patricia Schmid
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 15, 2019
HikingBugs
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Monica Preisendorf
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 27, 2019
HikingSnow

Hiked in on June 15, 2019. Beautiful views. Quiet & serene. Tent camped out on the "island". Snow packed from Birch Lake to Crater Lake made route finding a challenge, but was still fun!

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Nolan Hoff
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 17, 2019
Off trailSnow

gorgeous hike, snow covered after birch right now but well worth it.

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Jason Mourray
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 26, 2018
Hiking

The road up to the parking lot has a lot of washboard areas which made the drive less enjoyable, even in a 4WD truck. Parking was adequate. The hike was very enjoyable. Lots of variety including lakes, rocks, streams and alpine meadows. We didn’t run into any bears but we had bear spray just in case.

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Donna Vetter
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 6, 2018
Backpacking

Beautiful if you can find your way down to it! Desperately wanted to spend the night. Was at the top looking down on Crater Lake but trail was hard to follow. It appears to lead you through a Bush-whacking stretch but if you find yourself doing that then you missed the narrow little, hard-left turn that seemingly only takes you to an overlook. As I was later told, you need to follow over (along the top of that rock) and trail continues on other side. It is thick bear country — evidence in my pic of large scat at ‘end of trail’.

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McKenna Bidelman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 12, 2017
Hiking

quiet and be ready for a swim

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WES GOENEN
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 12, 2017

Oh my goodness, this trail has it all. I was worried about bears so I made a lot of noise and saw no wildlife. A lady I met on the trail said she saw mountain goats though. All of the lakes are spectacular. Crater lake it by far the best. So secluded and peaceful. The trail is a bit hard to follow and overgrown in just a few places. Coming out was much easier to follow and very strenuous. Well worth every step though. The views are some of the best I have seen. Do not sell yourself short and stop at Birtch Lake, Crater is well worth the extra hike!

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Lauren Loeffler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 23, 2017

Beautiful hike. We took our dog and loved it. Only one side note: we decided to do this on our drive from Swan Lake to Glacier National Park while towing our travel trailer. The road is narrow, dirt, and eventually reaches a pretty steep drop off the side towards the end. It's a great hike, just do it before you head to your next destination and leave the trailer. Also, there was plenty of snow left in the first mile of the hike.

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Kelsie Deyle
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 28, 2016
Hiking

The first 5 miles in was beautiful. The last mile to the lake is not well marked and the trail is overgrown. We didn't make it all the way to the shores of the lake, but we could see it. We did stop at Birch Lake on our way in, lots of people fishing and we watched a few people catch some.

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Bryce Grame
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 26, 2016
Hiking

Great hike with awesome views. Please be considerate though and do not feed the mountain goats up there though as cute as they may be.

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Paula Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 8, 2014
Hiking
First to Review

We did this hike at the beginning of July. This year (2014) it hasn't been a very warm summer so far. The trail was covered by snow almost the whole way once you hit Birch Lake. We did miles of side-hilling in the snow, which any hiker knows can be pretty rough! We may not have made it without ice cleats and trekking poles, there was about 5 feet of snow at most spots. I can't really speak to the trail because it was difficult to follow with the snow so we tried to just find the easiest way to go through the snow... The trail was pretty washed out in some of the spots where it could actually be seen due to the snow melt. We did run in to black flies on the way there (at Birch) so if you take your dog make sure to use pet safe bug repellent on them! The lake is incredibly beautiful and there's an awesome little island to sit and fish off of. We only got a few casts in then had to head back... It's a great trip!!!

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Emily Gustafson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 1, 2020
Hiking
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