North Kootenai Lake Via Kootenai Creek Trail

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Bitterroot National Forest

North Kootenai Lake Via Kootenai Creek Trail is a 19.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Stevensville, Montana that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and backpacking and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length19.4 miElevation gain3,270 ftRoute typeOut & back
BackpackingCampingHikingRunningDog friendlyLakeRiverViews
Description
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Beautiful trail that runs along a gorgeous creek with lots of lovely pools. Pretty rocky and narrow in some spots but definitely worth it.

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Reviews (154)
Photos (165)
Activities (129)
Completed (258)
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Scott McCall
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HikingGreat!

Snow finally melted off the trail and it was smooth sailing!

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Phill Guay
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Hiking

No ice all packed snow. Frozen creek is so beautiful

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Taylor Pontrelli
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HikingIcy

One of the more beautiful trails near Missoula. Tread carefully during winter-- the trail is incredibly icy and slick in certain areas

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Samantha Scott
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Hiking

It’s quite icy right now! But the views are wonderful! Will come back in the spring:)

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LeeAnn K
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Hiking
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Kimberly Miller
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Hiking

Best place to hike ever!

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Annie Meyer
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Backpacking

Gorgeous hike along Kootenai "Creek." Went in late May (2020), all the creeks seemed to be at peak runoff. Kootenai Creek was more of a raging torrent. Found a sweet camp spot 3 miles in, it looked like there was another nice site near the base of the final climb to the lakes. Made it across the first 3 creek crossings (found 2 log bridges and then 1 somewhat sketchy ford), then got stopped at the first North Kootenai Lake outlet crossing. Looked like other parties all turned back at this point too. Attempted to follow a moose trail through knee-deep snow along the river up to the lake, but eventually turned around and found a nice rock outcropping to camp on. Really pretty scenery, even without making it to the lake. Definitely plan to return to finish the trail someday.

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John McComb
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Hiking

Drowse out the noise. Test run today, going in deeper tomorrow.

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Keetah Salazar-Thompson
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HikingGreat!

Beautiful trail that runs along a gorgeous creek with lots of lovely pools to dip your toes into. We only went about 4 miles in before turning around but would definitely go back to finish the whole thing.

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Justin Deavers
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Backpacking

I had given the hike five stars upon arrival to the lake. I’m changing it to four stars because apparently there’s still sporadic cellular reception up there which allowed the wives to contact us.

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Tiffany G
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Gorgeous, somewhere between easy-moderate. Runs alongside the river, lovely. Can take it as far as you want. We went about an hour and a half and turned around.

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Mark Shenker
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HikingRocky

The trail is very rocky so you spend a lot of time looking down. The first 1.3 miles flanks the pretty creek. After that (this time we only went out 5 miles) it’s not bad but not spectacular. It was a Saturday - the trail was quite busy. Lots of couples and families picking berries. As usual around here, once you are about a mile or mile and a half from the trailhead, you see very few people on the trail.

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Skye M
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Beautiful trail! Pretty rocky and narrow in some spots but definitely worth the trip. After the first 2 miles or so (just before the switchbacks) there are fewer and fewer folks on the trail. Some of the best spots to dip into the creek are just past the switchbacks. We went on a hot day and barely noticed the heat as the creek stays by the trail almost the whole time.

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Wes Wells
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HikingBugsMuddyNo shadeOff trailOver grownRocky

Heads up: this is not the 9.5 mile hike that Falcon Guides (2012- Scott Steinberg) describes correctly. Running both OnX Maps and AllTrails recorders we show 13.1 miles to the outlet of N. Kootenai Lake and another 2-3 10ths to our campsite just west of a little runoff stream. Our 3D/2N trip on July 22--24 was a hot hike that became challenging in heavy brush (ferns, thimbleberry, and varios bushes) after about 7miles. Navigation was a little sketchy (see photos) but we made it. Difficult fishing, a lot of rain, but crazy beautiful wildflowers. Pack bug spray. Bear scat on trail and lots of moose and elk sign. One cow moose at the lake on our morning pack out.

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Drew Brown
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This is a very nice and well maintained trail that runs alongside Kootenai Creek. There are many huckleberry and wild raspberry bushes along the trail which adds to the fun. We only got about 1.5 miles in however, about where the south hillside is full of dead trees from an old fire. But I assume the rest of the hike is also just as amazing.

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Kathy York
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HikingBlowdownOver grown

This is a nice hike along Kootenai Creek, which is raging right now. This is a trail where you have to watch where you’re going because it’s rocky most of the way. There are a few trees across the trail after three miles, and many more after four and a half miles, which makes hiking slow. We turned around at 5.7 miles when the trail became very brushy.

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Adam Johnston Sr.
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HikingBlowdown
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Steve Weber
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Hiking

Awesome trail vice nice and shady, the creek is amazing. Busy trail but it was Memorial Day weekend so that was to be expected. Can’t wait to go back and do the whole trail!

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Colin Bingham
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Hiking

The lakes and basins are unbelievably beautiful right now! Lots of snow past about mile 7.5 and I believe the lakes are still frozen as of 5/3/2020. If ya head up soon just follow all the post holes lol

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john peterson
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Hiking

Beautiful trail along Kootenai Creek. Spring runoff has started! Trail has a constant up but not to steep. In and out of tree cover. Lots of wildflowers at 2 plus miles in an old burn area.Hiked as far as the wilderness boundary ( mile 3). No snow or ice encountered on this trip.

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Gracie Schwenk
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HikingRocky

This is a good trail! It goes on forever so we just hiked about 2 miles in. Lots of good views, no ice or snow, flowers are starting to bloom, and only saw a couple of people. We brought our dogs and they did good. There are multiple spots where they can get a drink. There were some piles of dog on the trail that we knocked off with a stick. Remember to bag it if you bring your dog.

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Olivia Chinn
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Hiking

Hiked the trail 3/18/2020 and trail was in pretty good condition. A couple fallen trees between miles 3-4 and some icy patches, but if you bring some yak tracks/spikes you should be good. The views of the canyon and creek were absolutely amazing, definitely worth the hike! We tried making it out to the lakes but unfortunately the snow got pretty soft near mile 5-6 so we turned around and headed back.

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