Leigh Lake

Missoula, Montana 59806

Leigh Lake

Leigh Lake Professional Review and Guide

"A short but steep day hike to the largest lake in the Cabinet Wilderness (nearly a mile across) with stunning views of Snowshoe Peak, the highest peak in Montana west of Glacier National Park.

Leigh Lake Trail 132 climbs steeply uphill through thick forest with breaks providing views of Leigh Creek Valley. It’s only 1.5 miles to the lake, but the steep grade and rocky trail make it an hour-long trip, and longer with an overnight pack. Along the trail you’ll see some massive western hemlocks, a beautiful tree you don’t see often in Montana. The vegetation is wonderfully lush all along the route.

Less than a half mile before the lake, you get a great view of a gorgeous waterfall. Just before the falls, the trail turns right and goes straight up. This short section is very steep and requires handholds in a few places—it wouldn’t be fun with a heavy pack."

Leigh Lake Reviews

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I did this hike as an overnight snowshoe trip. It worked out quite well, although we did get a late start and wound up finishing the hike in the dark. The steady uphill grade made it a challenge, but even covered with snow the trail was easy to follow. There was a significant amount of snow on the trail even though we've had a mild winter this year. (1-plus foot at around 4000 feet to about 2 feet at 5000+ feet) The trailhead was easily accessible with my 4WD even though the road was ice-covered. The scenery was lovely, although we didn't hike all the way to the upper lake, we stopped at the lower. We're amateur snowshoers, and this trip was a bit of a challenge with full packs, but there is no exposure or avalanche hazard in the immediate trail area. Definitely a worthwhile hike.
Trail is close to being strenous.Folowing Cedar Creek the trail goes through lots of old growth cedar but pops out in a heavely burned erea many times.There are great views from the lower lake but don't stay there cause the upper is even better.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
July through September
Kootenai National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Snowshoe Peak
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018