Hike to Lava Lake



6 miles

Elevation Gain

1600 ft

Route Type


Added by Dwayne Parton

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.

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly



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10 months ago

Beautiful Mountain Lake

Worth the hike! The 6 mile round trip is a steady climb that weaves around a small creek. I hiked this in early May and did find quite a bit of snow left. I would recommend microspikes if you're doing it before mid-June, although it is very doable without, the melting snow just slows you down a bit. There are campsites around the rim of the lake - continue past these and find yourself overlooking the crystal blue mountain lake. Unreal views upon your "summit". Pack in a beer to enjoy on the large boulders down by the lake, enjoy the sun pouring down on you, meet some new friends and then hike down with that empty beer can securely in your pack :)


about 4 years ago

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 5 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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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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