Top 10 Lake Hikes in S.W. Montana

Olivia Mitchell

There’s something so fun about hiking up to a gorgeous alpine lake. Whether you enjoy fishing, swimming or simply taking in the views, everyone enjoys a nice lake day. So here are the best hikes to lakes in Southwest Montana in order of mileage.

Pine Creek Lake
12 mi 3,635 ft
Pine Creek Lake is definitely one of the most exquisite lakes in the SW Montana area and is a must-do for all Bozemanites. This hike is strenuous and has a good amount of elevation gain so be prepared. Yet, once you get to the top and see Pine Creek Lake, the struggle up is completely worth it. This lake is perfect for jumping in and perfecting your cannonball because the lake is about 170 feet deep.

Hyalite Lake
11 mi 2139 ft
This hike is just fun - simply put. The Hyalite Creek trail takes you to Hyalite Lake and along the way, you pass upwards of five different waterfalls. Depending on the season, you can enjoy swimming in the pools by the waterfalls which makes for an amazing day. During the wildflower season, this trail is covered in a rainbow of beautiful flowers too.

Emerald & Heather Lakes
10.5 mi 2165 ft
Take a hike into the beautiful Hyalite Canyon. This trail takes you to two separate lakes, which makes the trek up completely worth it! Don’t skip going all the way to Heather Lake. The views are incredible and it tends to be more quiet!

Lava Lake
6 mi 1700 ft
Lava Lake is one of the must-do hikes near Bozeman. The hike up is a nice and steady wooded path three miles to the lake. This makes this hike perfect on a hot summer day. This trail can be busier than most of the hikes on this list, but the lake is big and has plenty of places to sit lakeside and enjoy the water.

Hidden Lakes
5.5 mi 1259 ft
This trail takes you to two different and beautiful lakes with the option of seeing a third lake by taking a left 1.5 miles in. Please note that the road leading up to the trailhead is very rough and requires 4WD and good ground clearance. This trail can be closed due to snow until the middle of summer. Because of this, you will probably have the trail to yourself and will be able to enjoy some solitude.

Westshore Trail #431 (Hyalite Reservoir)
5 mi 413 ft
Unlike most of the hikes on this list, this trail does not end with a lake but rather starts with one. You’ll begin this hike by tracing Hyalite Reservoir’s shoreline which gives you beautiful lake views. This trail ends at an open bluff that exposes panoramic views of Hyalite Canyon making the 2.5 miles completely worth it.

Blackmore Lake
4.3 mi 905 ft
Blackmore Lake trail is a wooded path that leads you all the way to a beautiful and open alpine lake. This trail is most popular to get up to Mount Blackmore, which is one of the most incredible peaks to hike to near Bozeman. After hiking to the top of the mountain, taking a dip in Blackmore Lake is a highlight of the day.

Crescent Lake
3.3 mi 347 ft
This hike begins at the same trailhead of Westshore #431 but veers off about 0.5 miles towards Crescent Lake which is another beautiful alpine lake not far from Hyalite Reservoir. This hike is relatively easy which makes it great for beginner hikers.

Glen Lake Rotary Park Loop
1.7 mi 15 ft
The Glen Lake Loop trail is a fantastic trail for people who don’t want to go too far out of town, but still want to get some steps in. This trail meanders around Glen Lake and the surrounding bluffs so you get incredible lake views and Bridger Mountain views. Don’t forget to stop at Map Brewing Company for the perfect post-hike beer overlooking Glen Lake!

Fairy Lake
0 mi 0 ft
Yes! You can drive right to Fairy Lake. If you’re not looking to hike somewhere to enjoy a great alpine lake, then look no further than Fairy Lake. This lake is CRYSTAL clear and has gorgeous views. A really fun day hike is Sacagawea Peak (The Trailhead is the same parking lot as the Fairy Lake Campground) and then cool off your sore muscles at Fairy Lake. Please note that the road leading up to Fairy Lake is very rough and requires 4WD and good road clearance.

Southwest Montana offers an abundance of breathtaking lake hikes that cater to various preferences and skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, Southwest Montana’s top lake hikes offer unforgettable experiences immersed in the region’s natural splendor and don’t forget the bear spray.  

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