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Pine Creek Lake

HARD 148 reviews

Pine Creek Lake is a 9.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Livingston, Montana that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 9.2 miles Elevation Gain: 3,635 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
washed out
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

really lovely. unfortunately my dog was very curious about all the poop bags left behind on the trail. even if you intend to pick it up on your way back, please do not do this. it is rude to other hikers, with and without dogs.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike. Reaching the summit and seeing the beautiful lake surrounded by the mountains made the elevation gain well worth it :)

hiking
3 months ago

The trail is quite hard once you pass the waterfalls. Most of the elevation gain is over 3.5 miles and in places in the burn zone of the trail it's a bit eroded. I'd rate this as strenuous but the lake is worth every step of this hike!

hiking
3 months ago

good condition after you cross over pine creek over log bridge be ready to climb. spent the night Monday aug 26. Was the toughest physical and mental challenge I have ever done. Totally worth it.

hiking
3 months ago

Done this trail a few times now and it is incredibly beautiful. It is quite difficult as it is all uphill after the falls, but the views of the peaks and the alpine lakes are always worth it. It can get chilly and windy at the lake so bring a jacket when you need it. If you have extra time or staying overnight, I'd recommend climbing the rocks above the lake and get a different perspective and views. The entire hike is about 5 hours (including the 15-20 minute break at the lake) for me but I'd say it takes about 6-7 hours for most people that do the entire hike on the same day. Not sure why the description on AllTrails says 9.2 miles round-trip. 10 miles RT is a more accurate distance of the trail. If you're looking for a nice, long hike with some serious elevation gain and rugged peaks, then this a perfect trail. One of my favorite hikes in the area. Get outside and enjoy the hike!

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

The first 1.5 miles has next to no elevation gain so be prepared to gain 700-800 feet every mile until you reach the top. The trail has loose rock nearly the whole way from the first waterfall on. Decent shade for most of the trail. The views of the mountains and the lake make it worth it.

hiking
blowdown
no shade
over grown
rocky
3 months ago

This just a great trail, so beautiful. Longer than most trail guides say. We measured on All Trails 5.7 miles one way on this out & back hike. First half is all uphill with very rocky trail condition after the first 1.5 miles. Pine creek Falls is beautiful and you see a number of waterfalls on the way. There is a small lake (Jewell) at the base of a very high waterfall. There is another small lake at the top of that fall. That is not Pine Creek Lake. Continue around that lake another 10 mins to get to Pune Creek Lake. Entire hike and the lake is beyond beautiful but this is not an easy hike if you live at 800’ elevation.

hiking
4 months ago

We were using satellite which read 5.7 miles by the time we reached Pine Creek Lake, so 11.4 total miles out and back is a more accurate distance. This is a stunningly beautiful hike (views, waterfalls lakes, wild flowers), but VERY strenuous as others have said. My husband and I (ages 51/52) and our Great Dane reached the top in 4 hours, hiking slowly (w/mid-weight packs) and stopping occasionally to take pictures. We hit the trail at 9:30, but would recommend an even earlier start to take advantage of cooler temps, because the trail traverses several burn areas which have limited shade and on a warm day, the sun exposure combined with the elevation gain, can take its toll (take sunscreen). Going down is somewhat challenging on the knees, so hiking poles can be helpful. This is a good time of year to hike this trail as we were able to cross all creeks on logs and rocks without having to ford, and the wildflowers were in full array. The trail was fairly heavily trafficked all the way to the lake, by all ages to the falls, but from the falls to the lake, everyone else on the trail looked to be in their late teens- 30s, except for us. *Important note: There are 3 lakes. Pine Creek is the 3rd and largest. The other two are not named. Many people assume that they have arrived at Pine Creek Lake when they reach the second lake. We were redoing this hike bc we had made precisely that error the last time we hiked this trail. When you reach the second lake... KEEP GOING! Pine Creek Lake is just over the rocks at the far side of the second lake!

backpacking
bugs
4 months ago

Great hike! We went for two nights at the lake and I think that was a perfect amount of time. Definitely a difficult hike, we were taking lots of breaks nearing the lake. This hike is 10mi round trip. Took us about 6hrs to make it to the top and 4hr to make it down with moderately sized packs. The view was incredible, for sure worth the struggle! There was a full on windstorm as we neared the lake so come prepared! We nearly lost our jackets it was so windy/cold/rainy. The weather changed pretty rapidly so make sure you have the right gear to make it a bit more bearable! Make sure to bring bug spray!! Mosquitos were awful at the lake, left covered in bites.

backpacking
bugs
rocky
4 months ago

Overall a very nice hike! As everyone else has said though it is pretty tough. My wife and I are in pretty good shape and backpack quite a bit, and with 30 lbs in our packs it took us about 4.5 hours to reach the lake. Granted we did stop for lots of picture and water breaks, but if you're backpacking I wouldn't rely on getting up there in 3 hours. The lake is beautiful though and the views are worth it! Quite a few mosquitoes came out at night though so bring bug spray.

hiking
4 months ago

Just the perfect difficulty level. Any harder and I wouldn't have made it. It's totally worth is for the changing scenery the whole way up

hiking
rocky
4 months ago

Great Hike! Just make sure you keep on the right trail. When we came up on the creek at about 2.5 miles in , we went to the right instead of crossing the creek( which is a little intimidating). Big mistake. Added another hour to the hike trying to find our way back to the correct trail !

hiking
4 months ago

Second time hiking this trail!! It's still one our favorite trails ever! We've hiked all over Yellowstone, Canada, and Alaska. And its one of the best hikes we've done. Hard climb, but well worth the effort! Views are amazing!

hiking
4 months ago

The trail is 10 miles round trip. Not 9.2 as stated. Please don’t forget your bear spray on this trail! Very beautiful. 2 big stream crossings. Second one is hairy! Crosses very different terrains throughout. I passed a lot of folks going up while I was coming down and seemed beat. Not an easy hike for those who are not seasoned hikers. Best advice is keep going!! It’s worth it. And please respect other hikers- rule is -let the person hiking up have the right of way. - and leave no trace!

hiking
muddy
rocky
4 months ago

Just five miles seems easy. But this five miles is a pretty steep climb. Took us just over three hours. The reward at the end is worth it though. The Lake is Beautiful. Bring plenty of water and a light jacket as the weather can change quickly.

hiking
snow
4 months ago

This is an amazing hike with great views along the way. It is no joke, the elevation gets to you and you literally go all uphill after hitting the falls. I recommend starting the hike early. The “only 5 miles” to the lake is very deceiving and will take at least 3 hours to get to the top. Bring a lightweight rain jacket and a decent size water bladder. We got hailed on at the top, but it cleared up pretty quick. The trail is pretty easy to follow and there is a little sketchy creek crossing. Otherwise, the trail isn’t in bad condition and pretty easy to follow.

hiking
4 months ago

fun hike...took our family including 2 boys age 10 and 12, 3 hours to the lake. took our time stopped for water and pics along the way. I was a bit nervous hearing that the trail was straight up and rocky after the falls but that's not so. switchbacks yes but not straight up. iwould compare it to hiking from the m in Bozeman to baldy as far as difficulty but there are lots of water features and a creek crossing. I could see that crossing being tough earlier with more water but today we made it across using rocks and logs. I would say if your active and have some athletic ability don't let this hike pass you by! views are amazing at the lake and we caught some fish too!

hiking
blowdown
muddy
5 months ago

My wife, black lab and I attempted to make Pine Creek Lake and turned around approximately 1 mile short due to inclement weather. There are several muddy sections on the trail that are hard to avoid and some blown-down trees that haven't been taken care of but are easy to navigate around. There's a moderately difficult creek crossing about 1/2 way up that takes some balance and a little nerve to accomplish. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a mod-difficult but easy to follow trail that is well worth the efforts in views and sense of accomplishment.

hiking
muddy
rocky
5 months ago

Hiked up to the falls and back- about 3 miles rountrip- with 600ft elevation gain going up. Moderate going up, pretty easy going back down, but would recommend hiking boots for the rocks, spots of mud, and creek crossings. Pretty busy trail, saw lots of dogs and families, seemed doable for all ages. Beautiful hike there and back, constant sound of rushing water, absolutely would recommend if you want a Montana wilderness hike without the Yellowstone crowds!

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