• Activities:

    Canoeing, Photography, Kayaking, Swimming, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer

Bathrooms
Beach
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

The biggest island on Flathead Lake, Wild Horse Island, offers great opportunities to hike, see wildlife, swim, and kayak. With several coves, trails, and easy access, this is not a location you will want to miss.

There are many boat ramps to access Flathead Lake, but the closest location to Wild Horse Island is Dayton, MT. Dayton offers easy access with only about a 1-hour paddle to the island for the novice kayakers. Unfortunately, the boat ramp in Dayton does not have room for parking, thus it is only a temporary loading and unloading zone. A Public Reserve is located in Dayton 2 blocks North and 2 Blocks East from the boat ramp.

Once in Flathead Lake, head South East towards Wild Horse Island. Enjoy the views of the Swan and Mission Mountain Range to the East. Early morning kayakers will be able to witness eagles diving for fish on the lake. Paddle past Cromwell Island and approach Skeeko Bay (Reference the attached picture which provides a map of public access points on Wild Horse Island). Skeeko Bay and Eagle Cove are located nearest to the designated hiking trails on the island. 

Once on the island, pull the kayaks on land and be sure to read the State Park guidelines, register, and pay the necessary fees. The trails lead to several parts of the island, I would suggest exploring all of them. There are a few horses left on the island, in addition to big horn sheep, mule deer, and many species of birds. 

When ready, return the way that you came.  

Pack List

  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
  • Water Tight Bag
  • Lunch
  • Water
  • Sun Screen
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Camera
  • Money (small fees for non-Montana residents)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Derek Vander Ark

Born in Washington, Raised in Montana, Temporarily residing in Iowa. Crisp air, dense forests, cold lakes, towering summits, and clapping thunder is what I like best--- Sharing the landscapes that I experience through photography is what I enjoy most.

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