Stroll to Clearwater Lake

Up, On and Over

At A Glance

Length: Trailhead to the Lake - 0.25 miles. Well-established trail around the lake, 1.9 miles.

Elevation: Trailhead: 4,950 feet; Lake: 4,800 feet

Directions: Turn east off Highway 83 onto the Morrell-Clearwater Road north of Seeley Lake. Drive three miles and take a left at the US Forest Service Road #4270 Clearwater Lake Loop Road. Follow for another three miles to the trailhead.

Since the road is a loop, continue from the trailhead to the north seven miles until reaching Highway 83, less than a mile north of the Morrell Clearwater Road.

Difficulty: 1/10 (1 being a stroll through the park, 10 being technical climbing or of excessive duration)

Overview: From the trailhead to the lake is a gradual but constant downhill. The lake can be seen shortly after leaving from the trailhead.

Once at the lake there is a large campsite with several primitive campsites along the lake trail. The lake trail is well-maintained allowing access to the breath-taking view of the Swan Mountain Range on the east side of the lake.

After supper on Sunday there was just enough time to drive from Seeley Lake and hike into Clearwater Lake for the sunset. With the half hour drive from town and easy hike to the lake, we packed up and headed out.

Once we hit the Clearwater Lake Loop Road we soon met a young bull moose trotting down the road. He ducked into the bushes faster than we could get out the camera.

After parking at the trailhead, we could hear the mournful cry of a pair of loons. Once we arrived at the lake, we could see the buoys across the lake marking the loon nesting area. They had one chick that survived and the buoys will be pulled the week of July 12.

We were quick to strip off our shoes and wade out into the lake. Within minutes we had collected several leeches on our feet and could easily catch more as they swam by in the clear water.

We kicked up a brood of ducklings on our trek around the lake. Five balls of feathers quickly scurried out into the open water-the adults were nowhere in sight.

We enjoyed the stillness and the mirrored reflection of the Swan Mountain Range in the lake as the sun quickly dropped behind the trees. The few ripe huckleberries along the trail were a welcomed treat.

When we arrived back at the main trail, two fly fisherman cast silently into the depths just beyond the shore for the elusive westslope cutthroat and brook trout.

There couldn't have been a more peaceful scene – except for the buzzing insects.


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