Hike to Lost Cabin Lake

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Directions: From Boulder, travel south on Highway 69 – 33 miles and continue south onto Highway 359 under the interstate  through Cardwell to the Indiana University Geological Field Office turnoff at the South Boulder River. From the Cardwell side, turn south onto S Boulder Road and continue 16.5 miles through the mountain town of Mammoth to the trailhead for Lost Cabin Lake.

Travel Time: 2 hours from Boulder WARNING: ROUGH ROAD LAST 3 MILES

Hike Difficulty:     

Hike Distance: 8 miles round trip


What to bring: 

  1. Hiking boots
  2. Camera
  3. Lunch
  4. Fishing Gear
  5. Bear Spray

Trip Extras: 

  1. Put your name in the Monument
  2. Fish Lost Cabin Lake
  3. Camp along S Boulder Creek and hike to some of the other trails in the area including:
    1. Curly Lake Loop
    2. Short but steep trip to Louise Lake

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This hike is a beautiful family day trip into some huge Montana territory. With the trail head elevation at 7600 feet and the lake elevation at 9150 the trail in is pretty gradual – gaining about 380 feet in elevation per mile.  It strolls across the creek multiple times and through a beautiful green meadow. The US Forest Service has done some good work to build a number of bridges crossing the South Boulder and multiple tributaries. The bridges make for some good photo ops and you can take pictures at some of the mini waterfalls along the way. Anywhere is a good place to  stop for a sandwich and a snack.

Montana did not have much of a snow year for 2016 but just the same here it is mid-July and there is still some snow to walk through. There are also some good snow slides off the peaks. Nearing the lake you will see a Top of the Mountain Club Monument we built – be sure to sign your name in the jar!

Enjoy lunch along the shore of the crystal clear lake. Try your luck with a fly and rod, we could see the fish swimming under the water.

If you are up for an extra challenge you can even make your way up towards Granite Peak on the backside of the lake. Be cautious especially in the rock slides. You also need to be aware that it is griz country, we saw evidence of a large bear rooting – tearing trees out of the ground and digging for roots and bugs. MAKE NOISE AND CARRY BEAR SPRAY

The aerial view of the lake is breathtaking and you can see other lakes from above as well.

 

Retro 1988 in the meadows about a mile and a half below the Lost Cabin Lake. This photo was taken while  Jim Booher and I were working on a trail maintenance contract with the US Forest Service.

Retro 1988 in the meadows about a mile and a half below the Lost Cabin Lake. This photo was while I was working with Jim Booher on a trail maintenance contract with the US Forest Service. Along with Jim's dog Fritz I am with my German Shepard Kid.

Along with us you see Jim’s dog Fritz my German Shepard Kid. We did have a couple of horse off in the trees but no pictures of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the coolest part of the trip: the personal history behind it. Thirty years ago or so another good friend of mine Randy Herbst and I had a forest contract for this same trail and we built in the water bars and a number of foot log bridges. The bridges are no longer in service but we found three of them still along the trail. We also found a number of water bars still in on the job on the switchbacks up to the lake.

I would have never thought that thirty years later I would be sitting on the tread I cut with my daughter.

I would have never thought that thirty years later I would be sitting on the tread I cut with my daughter.

This was some fun and rewarding work. All done with a chainsaw, a big hammer and a lot of sweat and toil. This bridge is broken and water no longer flows where it did but our effort still shows and even some of the steel  we packed in is still visible.

Water Bar

This water bar is filled in and needs to be cleaned out but it is functioning as designed. You can’t see what I am pointing at but that is a piece of rebar that I packed up the mountain. With a backpack so full of steel that Randy would have to help me to my feet as I left the trail head it got lighter as I trekked up the mountain. I could throw out two pieces of steel at every water bar location.  Needless to say, I wouldn’t think to go to that kind of effort today. All in all, this was not only a great hike for Liza and I but it was a more than cool trip down memory lane! I hope you all can enjoy and appreciate this picture story!

 

 

 

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