Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

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By Griffen Smith
Pathfinder 

Heart and Crescent Lakes

Hikers Hideout - Missoula Mountains Wilderness

 

Griffen Smith, Pathfinder

Glacier Lake is seen below the Mission Mountain Range from an overlook on the trail into the Mission Mountains Wilderness. Photos taken June 19, 2020.

Distance: 4.3 miles (8.6 miles roundtrip)

Difficulty: Moderate.

Elevation gain: 1,368 feet

Services: The trailhead has a relatively large parking lot with a pit toilet. No drinking water is available at the trailhead. The trail sees heavy use. Foot travel and horses are allowed.

Directions: On Montana Highway 83, turn west onto Kraft Creek Road at mile marker 37 (just south of Condon). Follow Forest Service Road 561 for about 11.5 miles to the trailhead. The trailhead to Heart and Crescent Lake also serves as the trailhead for Glacier Lake and Turquoise Lake.

Hiking Overview

The hike starts off on the right side of Glacier Creek, staying near the main waterway until you reach a series of small creek water crossings. Three will have log bridges but one low lying area might be flooded with water if the runoff is high. The trail goes by the sign that marks the entrance to the Mission Mountain Wilderness. Soon after, turn right when the trail forks, one going to Glacier Lake and the other to Heart and Crescent Lake trails. 

Though most wildlife seen on this hike are small mammals and birds, this area has a bear presence. Make sure you bring bear spray and practice safe food storage if you plan on backpacking.

Griffen Smith, Pathfinder

Switchbacks bring the trail to a break in the trees and spotting of peaks on the hike to Heart and Crescent Lakes in the Mission Mountains Wilderness.

From the Y, the trail starts to climb via switchbacks on the north side of Glacier Lake. An overlook near the top is a great spot to rest and view Glacier Lake with Liny Peak in the background. At the top of the switchback, the trail shoots off northwest to the lakes. In mid-June, there is patchy snow on and off the trail, and if you are a snow hiker, it is nothing you haven't seen before. After some traversing, Heart Lake appears dead ahead, with stunning views of the Mission Mountain's East front. 

Other hikers can be seen along the trail as well as the lakeside, most backpack in and fish the lakes for native trout. Despite the number of people staying overnight, the hike is not too strenuous for a day hike. 

Crescent Lake rests just above Heart Lake. A waterfall that connects the two is the largest of many you will see on the trail. To get to Crescent, follow the left lakeside trail up the natural dam that separates the two to the east camping area. In mid-June, there is still ice on some parts of the lake, but it did not stop some motivated anglers from fishing.

Tip: In mid-June bring bug spray if you plan to stay at the lake long. The mosquitoes will get you otherwise.

 

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