Wanless Lake

HARD 11 reviews
#5 of 9 trails in

Wanless Lake is a 14.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Trout Creek, Montana that features a great forest setting and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

14.3 miles
5,082 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




nature trips





4 months ago

Favorite hike ever.

11 months ago

My GPS recorded our journey on this trail (#924) at 10.06 miles from the Mckay Creek Rd. TH to the lake campsite. A demanding 20 miles round trip. The NFS sign at the TH claims it's 9 miles to Wanless Lake.

The first 2.35 miles will have your heart pumping and then the slope moderates from that point to about the 4 mile mark. From there to Goat Peak and the Ntl Forest boundary for Kanisku and Kootenai (6.6 miles) the trail slope and features are varied. With a 35lb pack and snow coming into play at 5200 ft, reaching a depth of ~6" at 6400 ft, JoRayne and I were on the trail for 7.5 hrs. About an hour of that time was for breaks.

Once we arrived at Goat Peak we considered climbing the rocky monster but the snow covered slope, mostly boulders and loose rock, would have made the attempt for the summit treacherous so we pushed on toward Wanless Lake.

We wandered down the snow covered trail to the upper lake and beyond; along the way seeing various animal paw (cat and Bear) and hoof (Moose and deer) prints in the snow. A bear also left its partially digested meal on the trail for us to see...croiky! One enormous windfall tree blocked the trail just short of the camp sites.

The lake was calm and the surrounding mountains make you feel really small. We had the place to ourselves and the night was peaceful and dry.

**We did not have access to water until we dropped into the canyon from Goat Peak ridge.

11 months ago

Great first back packing trip! Beautiful views at the top, hard climb but great trail!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Super beautiful trail. The climb was really hard at the beginning. Once you got to the saddle it was down hill. A friend and I went on June 24th. We crested the saddle excited to start going down to the lake. Little did we know there was a ton of snow! The trail disappeared and after trying to make our way for an hour without the trail we turned around and climbed out. We camped just below Goat peak. We had a great time and look forward to going when there is no snow.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Great hike! The trail has streams running along it in the early parts of the year and we always fill our canteens up in these so no need to bring a ton of water with you. The trail itself is pretty steep and you will think you're almost to the top when you really aren't.. It will play tricks on you like that. You can break the hike up into multiple days to make it less difficult and spend the night at the upper lake. The rainbow trout here are so delicious!!! There is snow here until late summer which may make it difficult if you hike early in the year, so always be prepared. We loved the hike and will do it again soon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

It was a very long and tough hike. You will want to have at least 4 liters of water with you. This is a dry trail, that has the heat bouncing off of the rocks you are hiking up. So be prepared with lots of water, and make sure you start off well hydrated! The first part is approximately 5 miles straight up of switch backs. Once you get to the top of the ridge, it's absolutely breathtaking! Feels like you are on top of the world! Followed by four miles of switch backs down to Wanless lake. There is an upper lake about a mile down from the ridge, with camping spots. This is an extremely difficult trail. You will want to be in great shape for this one! Believe me! This trail will play with your mind... Be warned! You will think you are almost there, and you're nowhere close. This happens the whole hike! This hike definitely feels like it is wat more than 9 miles to Wanless lake. But, it really is only 9. I promise. And it's totally worth it!

Monday, September 09, 2013

The first 4.5 miles is an intense 3300 ft very climb that's pretty deceiving u keep seeing a ridge u think ull come out on but never do old recommend going in spring seeing as when I went it was a dry hike other then the lakes and a creek at the bottom when u finally reach the top u go through a small pass with a pretty steep climb down to the lakes once in the basin its beautiful with at least 7 lakes for those that put fourth the effort for the initial climb its well worth getting to the lakes in total it took us about 14 hours to hike but trust me u want to do this as a backpacking trip with as much effort as the first climb in overall pretty good hike

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Very good backpacking trip. Long arduous hike though... you will want to be in shape for this one. Six miles of up, three miles of down. You can actually camp in the basin before the Cabinet Wilderness boundary and also you can stay at Upper Wanless Lake. There are other small lakes in the area and from Wanless Lake you can look down into Buck Lake. The headwall at Wanless Lake is very impressive ( I would guess it climbs nearly 1500 feet). Pack your bug spray or go in early October, however it can snow that time of year there. Also,,,this is grizzly bear country. Bring bear spray and be smart with your food and where you cook. There are also elk, moose, mule deer, whitetail deer and various other critters in the area. One of the best backpacking trips I have ever been on.

11 days ago

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Friday, November 07, 2014