Best Hikes in Lolo National Forest (MT)


Lolo National Forest is located in western Montana, surrounding the city of Missoula. National Forests that border Lolo include: Bitterroot, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Kootenai, and Flathead National Forest. Located west of the continental divide, the Lolo National Forest is influenced by both continental and maritime climates, which provide for a wide range of environmental gradients producing a forest of high diversity. The forest also offers some of the best recreational opportunities in Montana including: hiking, biking, hunting, and fishing. The best hikes in Lolo National Forest are described below. Official Website.

Nearest Metro AreaMissoula, MT
Area Size2,197,966 acres
EstablishedSeptember 20, 1906
Hiking Trails700 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Lolo National Forest

(*** = Top hikes in Lolo National Forest)

Blossom Lakes Trail – 5.8 miles out and back

Beginning from the Thompson Pass Trailhead on the Idaho-Montana state line, this forested trail climbs gradually to Lower Blossom Lake and Upper Blossom Lake. Campsites are scattered around the lake as well. Hikers also have the option of continuing on the trail for another mile or so to Pear Lake.

Blue Mountain Lookout Trail – 5.0 mile loop

Blue Mountain Recreation area is a fairly crowded system of intertwining trails just west of Missoula. There are a number of trailheads and routes that you can choose from – I highly recommended planning ahead so you don’t get turned around. Whatever you end up doing, there are beautiful views of Missoula and the surrounding area!

Cliff Lake Trail #100*** – 2.4 miles out and back

The Cliff Lake trail provides relatively quick access into one of the most picturesque alpine cirques on the Superior Ranger District. The scenic attractions include unobstructed views of Diamond Lake, Torino Peak, and Eagle Cliff Mountain from an open avalanche point at the west end of Diamond Lake. The stark, rugged scenery at Cliff Lake is stunning; Cliff Lake also provides fishing opportunities.

Heart and Pearl Lakes*** – 7.8 miles out and back

One of the more popular hikes in Lolo National Forest, the trail follows the South Fork Trout Creek to Heart Lake and then Pearl Lake in a cirque basin. The trail is a gradual, continuous climb of about 1,110′ over the 3 miles to reach the lake which is easily manageable for most hikers.

Hub Lake-Hazel Lake Trail – 6.0 miles out and back

Pretty hike to Hub and Hazel Lake that passes through an old cedar growth forest with waterfalls along the way. The route is well maintained and typically not crowded even on summer weekends. The 1,600′ climb begins around 1 mile from the trailhead but it manageable.

Morrell Falls National Recreation Trail #30 – 5.4 miles out and back

Morrell Falls is a series of falls and cascades that come down a narrow drainage from the Grizzly Basin area (a roadless and backcountry area directly adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness). The largest of the falls is located at the end of the maintained trail and is approximately 90 vertical feet. From the trailhead, go 2.5 miles to the falls.

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