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Lava Lake Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.7 (21) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A popular 5.7 mile out-and-back hike close to both Bozeman and Big Sky.


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Map Key

5.7

Miles

9.1

KM

Out and Back

7,103' 2,165 m

High

5,532' 1,686 m

Low

1,581' 482 m

Up

1,579' 481 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

This is a popular trail, but for good reason. It's is a good, solid workout with a wonderful, calm lake at the end to sit, relax, and appreciate the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of the Gallatin Valley. Because the trail is mostly shaded and is always close to water, this is an excellent option for a summer hike.

Description

The trail, also known as Cascade Creek, is wide at many points allowing hikers to move at their own pace without being held up, or holding others up. The trail is popular with all ages and types of people from trail runners, to meanderers, to hunters, and even the occasional skier in winter.

Starting from the trailhead along the Gallatin River, make your way into dense coniferous forest on wide tread, following alongside Cascade Creek—keep an eye out for many small waterfalls along the way. The elevation gain for the first three quarters of the length of the trail is mellow but a good workout. Savor the micro scenery along the way. The last quarter of the trail is along switchbacks, but they are worth the workout. Reach the top and find yourself treated to the expansive Lava Lake nestled in among its mountainous surroundings.

At the lake, explore the perimeter, but be sure to stay on maintained trails—this is a fairly popular hike, so be respectful of the area.

Contacts

Shared By:

Sam H

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 21 votes

#391

Overall
  4.7 from 21 votes
5 Star
76%
4 Star
14%
3 Star
10%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#11

in Montana

#391

Overall
460 Views Last Month
5,287 Since Apr 23, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
59%
0%
41%
0%

Photos

Lava Lake Trail
Jan 18, 2018 near Big Sky, MT
Trail leading to Lava Lake. This is in early May.
May 16, 2015 near Big Sky, MT
Lava Lake
Apr 23, 2015 near Big Sky, MT
Lava Lake trail is a great trail.
May 16, 2015 near Big Sky, MT
View of Lava Lake in early May.
May 16, 2015 near Big Sky, MT

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Check-Ins

Jul 25, 2020
Katie Osland
Beautiful! Nearly full parking area 6.4mi
Jun 26, 2020
Sandy Oaks
Beautiful view at the end. The sky was falling on the way back so I ended up running most of the way. Fun.
Jun 5, 2020
Michelle A
Mar 17, 2020
Carl Peterson
Fun winter camping. Beautiful area
Dec 26, 2019
Kelsey Linden
Wear trekking shoes with a metal grip! Slippery on the way down. 6mi — 3h 00m
Sep 27, 2019
Jaime Benson
Aug 18, 2019
Chris Regan
First hike!! And this place is beautiful! — 8h 00m
Jul 28, 2019
Rachel Augustine
With Abby! 5.8mi — 3h 14m