One of the lessor known gems of Glacier National Park is Bowman Lake, tucked away in the Northwest corner of the park, and is just about empty come autumn. To explore the great scenery around the area I highly recommend hiking the Quartz Lake loop. It is a moderate to difficult 12.8 mile round trip, and although the majority of the hike is in the forest, the view when you reach the Quartz Lake shore is unbelievable.

The trail to Quartz lake begins on southend of the Bowman Lake beach. I recommend going in a clockwise direction and getting the steep bit out of the way, but the 12.8 mile loop can be done either way.

Follow the Bowman Lake shore on the West Lakes Trail for about half a mile and then you will find the split where the loop begins. Turn left if doing the trail clockwise. The next 4 miles will be over 1,500 feet of elevation gain. However, once you get on top of the ridge, you should be able to enjoy a beautiful view of all three Quartz Lakes (Quartz Lake, Middle Quartz Lake, and Lower Quartz Lake). Then take an 950 ft descent just over a mile to Quartz Lake and take in the majestic scenery of the Livingston Range! There is a campground at Quartz Lake that is right on the beach and should be enjoyed if you have the time and a permit.

Once Quartz Lake has been fully enjoyed, continue on the trail past the campground and there will be a wooden footbridge crossing the outlet stream of Quartz Lake a couple hundred yards away. Shortly after the crossing, the trail will reach the shores of Middle Quartz Lake and traverse along the edge of this small lake. About a mile after Middle Quartz, the trail reaches Lower Quartz Lake, which is still much smaller than Quartz Lake but very beautiful and worth a few photos. The trail will run along the edge of the lake for about 2 miles until it reaches the south end, which is where the Lower Quartz campground is located (About 9.3 miles from the start going clockwise).

At the Lower Quartz campground, there is also a the Quartz Creek trail junction. Make sure to turn right and stay on the Quartz Lake Loop trail and DO NOT turn left onto the Quartz Creek trail, unless you are trying to reach the Quartz Creek campground 7 miles away.

Continue on the Quartz Lake Loop Trail for another 3 miles back to Bowman Lake. This entails a 750 ft elevation gain up to Quartz Ridge, and then a 1,000 ft descent. Once the trail has completed the loop and merged back to the West Lakes Trail at the edge of Bowman Lake, it's just a half mile back to the parking lot and campground.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Food
  • Bear Spray
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
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RT Distance 12.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 1500 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Loop
Features
Bathrooms
Beach
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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