West Lakes Trail

HARD 1 reviews
#97 of 114 trails in

West Lakes Trail is a 20.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Lake Mc Donald, Montana that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
20.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5501 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

fishing

nature trips

walking

horseback riding

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

no dogs

This is a 21 mile out and back hike that requires multiple days to complete. Drive past the ranger's station on the north end of McDonald lake to the West Lakes trailhead. Trail ascends steadily about 2150' to the top of the ridge, then descends about 1250' to trout lake. Nice spot along the shore is a good place to stop and rest a bit. The trail continues to roll along the lakeshore before returning to the spruce/fir forest at the north end of the lake. Passes a beautiful waterfall just before making the backcountry campsite at Arrow lake. Trail ascends another 1000' through very overgrown underbrush (early August) including a high percentage of devil's club. Passing this way in the morning will leave you very wet. The trail requires you ford the stream 4 times before reaching Camas Lake. This can be friendly, or treacherous depending on the time of year you are attempting it (snowmelt-fed). Trails are well maintained, and views along the pathway are beautiful. Backcountry sites are well laid out and very picturesque. Many groups try to make Camus in a single day, and most have to call it quits when they arrive at Arrow Lake late in the day. With the strenuous climb over the ridge under a full pack as a start, you may feel a bit spent for the rest of the hike, so be aware of your group's abilities when you plan your trip in this area. Getting back out from Camus Lake in one day is doable, but requires an early start, and is still a bit of a slog.