Hiking to Gates of the Mountains

Rate this Adventure 2 miles 0 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Andy Woodward

A short drive from Helena, Gates of the Mountains in the winter is a great place for any hiker to experience being surrounded by huge cliff banks. The lake, though frozen over, allows for ice fishing, hiking over, and even ice skating.

Although not clearly marked, Gates of the Mountains Road is the exit to take off Highway 15, and will take you through a small community until you arrive at this small parking lot. Although there is no trailhead or even a trail for this hike, the destination is visible throughout the entire hike. After parking, you will walk past a rig boat and, if the winter was cold enough, will be able to walk onto the lake itself! From here, it's a straight path with no elevation change straight towards the Gates (canyon). 

Even though there is no sign pointing towards the canyon, it is fairly easy to see by eye (if you look at the second photo for this adventure, you can see where the canyon begins). You can also just follow the shoreline straight East from the parking lot. The hike itself takes between 10-25 minutes, and may be very slippery depending on the ice formations.

Once you arrive at the Gates, you can continue walking through the canyon to see the extent of the rocks. Most of the winter you'll find amazing ice crystals and clear cracks and contours in the ice. There are also amazing ice fishing opportunities as well as areas for ice skating.  You may also see wildlife, such as deer, mountain goats, and possibly even bears. 

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