Little Spar Lake Trail

HARD 15 reviews
#9 of 27 trails in

Little Spar Lake Trail is a 6.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Troy, Montana that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 6.8 miles Elevation Gain: 1,853 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash




nature trips


bird watching





wild flowers


over grown


washed out

The trailhead starts about a half mile up an old forest service road. The first trailhead you come across is for the spar peak trail shortly after that is the trailhead for the upper lake. Its starts off with a realatively easy climb. About a mile or so there is a creek to cross, currently there is a tree that you can use to get across the only major crossing in the whole trail. In 2006 a warm front came through and melted a lot of snow quickly and really widened the creek, which made spotting the trail on the other side a little difficult, look for evidence from other hikers. The trail follows the creek pretty closely so getting water is easy. The trail is mostly in the forest but it has some spots that go through some open areas of thick brush, so an early start is a good idea these open areas are at about at the 3 mile mark and the sun will really warm you up. The last mile is where you can gain elevation about a 1000 feet and separates from the creek until you hit the saddle. Once to the saddle its about a half mile to the lake. The lake has several campsites and a picnic table that is built out of trees cut in half lengthwise, quite a feat for someone to hike up with a chain saw and build. The lake has plenty of hungry trout. Remember leave the area looking better than you found it or leave no trace!

Sun Oct 14 2018

Dog and I did an overnight hiking and camping trip to Spar Lake. The national forest campsite was nearly abandoned for the season. Great views of the lake and mountain. There is a long barely discernible trail along a creek to Spar Lake. This is a hard hike with lots quick elevation increases.

Mon Jul 30 2018

Great Hike! Lush greenery, started at 7pm just as it was raining.. decided to go for it.. took 2 hours to push it up there.. but it’s so worth it! One of my all time backpacking trips .

Sun Jun 03 2018

Great hike but a little early on day 2 of June. There was 5 creek crossings and just one I had to remove the boots and socks being around knee deep in freezing run off :) glad I brought my poles. Nice single trek trail with sun and shade couple of Cedar Groves blow downs, thorns, brush, snow just about everything you would want in a good hike and some great scenery. In places on the last leg before the lake the snow is still a few feet deep and just a little clearing at the lake ( beginning of the creek ) No other people it was great!

Mon Aug 21 2017

Access trail can be easy to miss both by car and on foot. The washed out creek on the forest road is inaccessible to most non modified SUVS, cars, and Vans. A large truck could cross, but thankfully the trailhead is not too far from this point. The trailhead itself starts on the uphill side of a dis-used forest service road, so if you have crossed the creek on a vehicle wide bridge, you have gone too far. The trail itself is long and has some rocky sections, but is partially shaded and the overall incline/ascent is significant but gradual. You will run into lots of overgrown bushes, some of which have thorns, but various berries are widely available trail side depending on season. The creek that you follow flows out of spar lake itself, so it serves as a valuable navigation point should you become lost. The biggest hazards in warm weather are slipping risk and exposed roots and hidden rocks. Tread carefully, but the Lake Itself is more than worth it. Spar lake has a couple of excellent tent camping spots, and is mostly Alpine with little evidence of swampy shoreline. You will be rewarded with amazing views of the mountains surrounding the lake, and of the valley upon your return trip. Highly recommended for prepared hikers/backpackers. *Bear danger is high due to berry abundance. Take caution*

Sat Aug 19 2017

Majestic- After the washed out bridge and the initial trailhead, the path had ferns and wide-leaved thorny plants that when wet soaked our pants and cut our legs. After crossing the river, the path climbs and become dry and has a shadowy canopy. Clear and quiet. Large ancient pines. We crossed a few dry waterfalls, then found ourself on a ridge above the creek. Berry bushes line the last 2 miles of the path all the way to the lake. The lake was undisturbed, sparsely improved, and unlittered except for heavy wear on the tree bark. Many campsites spread throughout the lakeside. The climb back down was even more beautiful. Hope you enjoy this trail as much as we did.

Sat Sep 03 2016

Extreme.... Good luck!

Mon May 30 2016

Spectacular!! Water was cold of course.

Fri Nov 14 2014

Wandered all over back when I lived in Troy...Little Spar is in the Scotchman Peak area and I took the trail in a couple of times back in the early 80s.

Wed Sep 10 2014

Wonderful hike to a beautiful lake. The first bit of the hike wasn't all that impressive to us and I was worried that it wouldn't get better but boy, was I wrong. This wound up being one of our favorite hikes during our trip. The first mile or so, the brush is overgrown on either side of the path- I was happy to have pants and a lightweight long sleeve. Once you hit the creek, the trail appears to end. Head left up the rocky creek and look for the cairns & hand-drawn blue arrows on the rocks. You'll find that the trail continues on the other side of the creek. After that, the trail continues through forest and then opens up into a beautiful area that runs along the creek. Wildflowers, huckleberries, raspberries. Amazing lake rewards you at the end. Saw a couple of spots where you could camp right at the end of the trail. We went on a Sunday and didn't see a single person while we were there. We didn't find the trail to be too strenuous but definitely not for those who prefer a well-trodden trail since it can be narrow, rocky, and overgrown at times. We went at a leisurely pace, took a long break for lunch at the top, and paused to pick berries here and there- took us about 5.5 hours total. No bear sightings but bring your bear spray- there was a sighting in August near the established campground before the trailhead where we stayed. Nice, big, open spots by a lake with vault toilets and firewood (water was turned off when we went).

4 months ago

4 months ago

5 months ago

6 months ago

Fri Jul 06 2018

Wed Jul 12 2017