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Lava Lake (Cascade Creek) Trail is a 6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gallatin Gateway, Montana that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, fly fishing, horses, and snowshoeing and is best used from June until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 6.0 mi Elevation gain 1,620 ft Route type Out & Back
Dog friendly Kid friendly Hiking Horseback riding Snowshoeing Forest Lake River Views Wild flowers Wildlife Muddy Rocky
Description
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Facilities
Getting There

The Lava Lake (Cascade Creek) climbs 1600 ft to a beautiful lake setting that is surrounded by the Spanish Peaks. The trail to Lava Lake follows a very obvious route without any potentially confusing intersections, so unlike the vast majority of other hikes in this area, it is not absolutely essential to have a map. After skirting above some summer cabins for the first third of a mile, the trail enters the Cascade Canyon, which it follows to Lava Lake. Total distance to the lake is just less than three miles, with an elevation gain of 1600. While not a stroll along the beach, this hike is very do-able for anyone in reasonable shape. The elevation is gained steadily and gradually, and a log bridge facilitates the only creek crossing of any consequence. Views are somewhat limited for about the first half of the trip as the trail passes through a dense lodgepole forest, but open up as you get higher up into Cascade Creek. One other thing that could be viewed as good or bad, depending on your point of view, is that the trail is quite rocky. This is mostly a disadvantage for horse users, and the upside is that you wont encounter the mud bogs common to some other area trails with softer footing. Also, since the trail is not especially popular with horseback riders, hikers wont often have to step around horse droppings. As you start getting closer to the lake, the canyon bottom opens up with some meadows, a likely area to spot a moose. A little further and the trail switchbacks up the natural dam that backs up the lake, and you're there! The views improve dramatically at the lake, with 10,412 Jumbo Mountain and several other un-named 10,000 peaks surrounding the Cascade Creek valley. Should you wish to make your trip an overnighter theres several good camping sites near the foot of the lake, and even day-hikers will want to spend some time savoring the rewards of their exertion. If you're interested in fishing, its worth wetting a line in pursuit of the resident trout, which are mostly in about the 10" range. Some of the lakes in the Spanish Peaks are noted for bigger (sometimes much bigger!) fish, but they tend to be considerably harder to reach than Lava Lake. Although the official Cascade Creek trail ends at the foot of the lake, a well-trodden path extends to its upper end. Beyond that, you're on your own, though. Its not too hard to bushwhack about a half mile beyond the lake, but after that the valley becomes much steeper and choked with deadfall, making hiking beyond the lake a dubiously worthwhile venture. For those wishing a longer trip, just before Lava Lake a trail branches off and heads up the ridge to the east, gaining a grueling 2000 vertical feet, mostly in the first mile, on its way to a high (9000) ridge. Once this ridge is attained, though, the going gets easier, and the views are tremendous. It eventually crosses Table Mountain and descends to Deer and Moon lakes after about eight miles. Then you can descend Deer Creek back down to the Gallatin River, from whence you will have to hitchhike back to your vehicle unless you've arranged a shuttle beforehand. Total distance between trailheads on the route described is about 16 miles. Obviously, only fit and experienced backpackers should undertake these sort of trips.

At the base of the trailhead is a gravel area designated for parking. Along with the parking lot is a small building with a unisex outhouse style bathroom.

To reach the trailhead, follow US 191 west and south out of Bozeman past Gallatin Gateway. Just over nine miles after the highway crosses the Gallatin River at the mouth of the Gallatin Canyon, it again crosses the river at an abrupt ninety-degree corner. A narrow gravel road departs the highway immediately before this bridge, and reaches a well-developed trailhead within a few hundred yards.

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Reviews (853)
Photos (530)
Recordings (570)
Completed (1704)
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Mark Wells
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 25, 2020
Hiking

great trail for a winter hike. lake looks stunning with the snow and ice. make sure to have something to help with traction on the steep parts!

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Kamie Augustine
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One of our favorites

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Ian Burman
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HikingGreat!

Very busy on this day. Beautiful weather and trail in great condition.

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Amy Kotsenas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 7, 2020
HikingGreat!

This hike is always a favorite! Steady climb, rocky trail - where good trail shoes. Hiked first week in October and the fall colors were gorgeous! This is a great hike for solo hikers as there are always lots of other hikers on the trail.

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Ariel S
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 5, 2020
HikingGreat!Muddy

The view on the way up is not amazing, but there is a nice creek and a lot tree coverage. The lake you end at is gorgeous and a great place to hang out so I’d recommend doing this earlier in the day, hanging at the lake for an hour, and then going back. The trailhead is easily located off of the highway.

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John Treinen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 4, 2020
Hiking

Continuos uphill climb ! But worth it at the lake

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Cheryl S.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 4, 2020
HikingGreat!

Steady, rocky climb up the entire way. I got on the trail mid-afternoon and it was very busy. Beautiful, particularly at the top, and definitely worth doing!

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Meghan Zidar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 3, 2020
Hiking

it's was a good climb, pretty rock but nice peaceful lake

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AllTrails User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 3, 2020
Hiking

Trail and streams were in good shape. Passed about 62 people and 4 horses on the return. Fall colors were beginning their artful show!!

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Trey Cruz
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Hiking
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Zackary Propst
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 29, 2020
HikingGreat!

Beautiful views. Not a bad hike up either.

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Kathy Nash
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 29, 2020
HikingRocky

Bring bear spray and be bear aware! There's a cabin about 0.5 miles into the trail. We ran into a black bear on the way back out near this cabin. The first 3 miles are straight up and pretty tough, but the way back down is easy.

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Lainey Colglazier
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 28, 2020
Hiking

A lot of rocks, but a fun hike! Pretty steep the entire way up. Lake was fun to take a dip in!

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Greg Weatherford
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Hiking

Great hike. u should do it.

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Cory Craig
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 24, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

Wow! Beautiful view of Lava Lake at the end of the trail. This is a difficult trail to traverse and is uphill for 3-miles to the lake, but the view is worth the pain.

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Stephen Bartlett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 23, 2020
HikingGreat!

Terrific views on top. Saw some deer and went early enough yesterday and had the top too myself. Hopped rocks to get around the lake and saw some trout. Did these hike as an in between for a pair of more difficult hikes and it was perfect!

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Blaine Adams
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Hiking
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Blaine Adams
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Hiking
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Jon Adler
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HikingGreat!
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Dionne C
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 21, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

I have an old knee injury that resulted in 5 surgeries so I can’t go crazy on the trials. This trail is rough. It’s very rocky. Possibly an old riverbed?! It’s a fast climb up and took me a little longer to get to the top. I would suggest a couple good walking sticks, laced up hiking boots (harder bottoms - I have north face boots and they were rough on my feet on this trail) and your camera. Once you get to the top it’s all worth the hike. You won’t be disappointed.

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Dan Grist
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 21, 2020
HikingRocky

Heavily trafficked. Steady gain in elevation with a beautiful view at the end. Rocky trail that can be narrow at times. Lake area at the top felt much cooler than the rest of the trail

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Leal Klingensmith
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Hiking
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Marta Fraga
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Hiking
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Robin Miralgio
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 17, 2020
Hiking

Amazing hike! Steadily incline the entire way up. My app said 2.6 miles and we made it up there in 1 hour and 15 minutes. We didn’t run into any animals/bears. The lake is stunning- you will want to leave time to sit there and relax for a while!

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Jackie Day
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Hiking
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Kourtney Welch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 15, 2020
Hiking

Amazing hike! Very rocky but not too challenging. We saw a bear (see photos) so take bear spray for sure. The view at the top is amazing and very much worth the trek. It was hazy from the West coast fires, but we still thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Taylor Catherine
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 15, 2020
Hiking

Great hike, the incline is steady but not too challenging on the way up and the view at the end is absolutely worth it. Our group was four active people and we did the whole trip in 3 hours with ~45 mins to take in the views at the lake.

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