Lava Lake is a popular hike off of US 191 in the Gallatin Canyon. Only a short drive from Bozeman, MT the lake is a popular place to fish, swim, or just relax.

The 6 mile round trip to Lava Lake is a steady climb that runs beside Cascade Creek through the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. The trail starts at the Gallatin River and continues upward through dense evergreen forest. There are no confusing intersections but is quite rocky and considered to be moderate in difficulty.

Due to the dense forest, views are limited until you get to Lava Lake. In the first mile you will walk by a summer cabin, as you get closer to the lake the trail begins to have switchbacks and then opens up to some small meadows. Snow may still be present on into May, and the water is cold and refreshing throughout the summer.

Pack List

  • Bear Spray
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Day Pack, Snacks, Water
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RT Distance 6 Miles
Elevation Gain 1600 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Sweet hike in winter

I hiked back here in January with my friend. The trail was nice and bootpacked. We brought snowshoes and strapped them on once we got to the frozen snow-covered lake and shoed across the lake in the fresh powder. Amazing view. A bit windy at the lake. The hike is not bad.

almost 2 years ago

Great hike Better Pay Off

Pretty steep incline most the way up. About 3 miles to the lake. The bridge you cross is about a mile from the top. Great swimming in august


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