Budget Backpacking to Arrow Lake in Glacier National Park

Arrow Lake is located in Glacier National Park. As you drive towards Glacier, you travel through rolling hills only to suddenly see this geological wonder of massive mountains jutting out of the landscape. Known for its pristine forests, alpine lakes and meadows, rugged mountains, and diverse wildlife, Glacier is truly a unique place. I have met people who have traveled the world and still say it is their favorite outdoor place on earth. With over 700 miles of trails, mountains, and lakes, Glacier is an adventurer’s paradise.

The trail to Arrow Lake immediately begins climbing at a moderate pace and continues to the top of the ridge (2.5 miles). There are only a few viewpoints where you can see Lake McDonald. At the top of the ridge there is a sign indicating an old fire lookout. The road to this lookout is old and almost disappeared.

The trail winds through a wide saddle and then descends steeply using curves into Camas Creek Valley. In just over 3 miles, the trail forks, going left toward Rodger Lake and right toward Trout, Arrow, Camas, Evangeline, and Ruger Lakes. Go to the right. An old campground is located 25 miles up the trail along Lake Trout. There is a large traffic jam at Trout Lake that is useful for fishing. Bears cross in this jam too. One of the first recorded deaths of a visitor to the park by a bear occurred at this location. There is no longer a campground at Trout Lake.

The main backcountry camp is located 3.5 miles up the trail at Arrow Lake. This is a small camp with a good food preparation area; bear stick, toilet and 2 hitch rails. The trail to the head of the lake requires a stream crossing at the foot of the lake. There are steps, but they are slippery and some are slightly submerged. The creek is only a foot deep at the crossing and feels good on weary feet.

The trail from Arrow Lake to Camas Lake is well maintained and offers spectacular views. There is a campground at Camas Lake. The food preparation area is very exposed to the wind from the lake. Lake Evangeline and Lake Ruger are further up the valley and require a lot of logging to get to. There are large wet meadows over Lake Camas with lots of elk and deer signs. There are many exposed slopes in this valley and it is a humid place which makes it ideal for berry bushes. This also means that this is serious bear country.

For current regulations and instructions, see the park website:

Glacier National Park National Park Service

PO Box 128 West Glacier, MT 59936

(406) 888-7800

(406) 8887808 fax

http://www.nps.gov/glac/ website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *