Rock Lake

Noxon, Montana 59853

Rock Lake

Rock Lake Professional Review and Guide

"Rock Lake offers a relatively easy access to a remote and scenic high alpine mountain lake just inside the border of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Most of the trail is outside the wilderness and subject to intrusion from a proposed mine.

From State Highway 200 about 1.8 miles east of the turnoff to Noxon, Montana, and just east of the railroad overpass (milepost 17.1), turn north onto Rock Creek Road. Drive 0.3 mile and bear right under the powerlines onto Forest Road 150 along Rock Creek. Follow the road as it deteriorates for 5.3 miles and bear right onto Road 150A (East Fork Rock Creek). Mileages start here for hikers who don’t have four-wheel-drives or vehicles with high clearance."

Rock Lake Reviews

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I took my two Labs on this overnight. It starts out on an old road for the first couple of miles. It meanders through some tall cedars and hemlock trees at the start. Then you reach Rock creek meadows which is a nice wet basin. There is ample water on this trail. plentiful springs and other sources of water. It was a hot two days in the upper 80's. When you reach the upper end of the meadows the road ends and a trail starts of to the right. First check out the old mine at the end of the road. There is a beautiful waterfall there it's a nice place to take a break before heading up the switchbacks to the lake. The lake is just inside the wilderness boundary. Very picturesque. It's a long lake. The campground at the foot of the lake is the only one but there is room for four to five tents. The next morning we went to the head of the lake on a social trail. This trail goes through St. Paul pass at the head of the lake and down to St. Paul lake. Being that it was going to be a hot day I did not want to spend to much time exploring. There is a lot you can explore there. There are some peaks to climb and a very nice lake to swim in.
This hike starts out fairly easy for the first 3.5 miles. You reach a waterfall and abandoned mine which is really fun to explore. Here you have an excellent photo opportunity!! From the waterfall the trail begins to gain rapid elevation for the remainder 1.5 miles up to the lake. After you reach the lake you can jump in, explore some mountain peaks, or just pick huckleberries. This hike is great for a day hike or can be a fun overnight campout hike.
I did a delightful overnight trip to Rock Lake. There is a proposal currently to mine for gold beneath the protected wilderness area. It was good to see first hand the beautiful landscape inspiring such hearty debate of subterrainian mineral rights and wilderness areas. The hike was not difficult, but inspired a sweaty brow during a section of hearty switchbacks late in the hike. Much of the trail is an old road, so it was gradual and wide enough to walk next to my friend. The bottom part of the trail is dense cedar forest. It was relatively cool in 90+ degree weather. About two-thirds of the way through the five-mile stroll, we started to gain significant elevation. The trail provides excellent views of lovely alpine basins and a meandering stream. A variety of ripe and delicious berries, including huckleberries and marion berries, forced us to walk slowly. As we came close to the top of the switch backs, we encountered hikers that saw an adolecent griz at Rock Lake. We made noise through the tall berries and did not see the bear, although we certainly encountered ample sign. We found an occupied campsite as soon as we reached the lake after walking right where the trail split. We retraced our steps and walked around the southern (?) shore, and found another already impacted sight about half way around the lake in thick trees. This is a great hike for folks looking for a relatively leisurely overnight trip or a decent day hike. Rock Lake also makes a great base camp to explore the surrounding peaks.

Rock Lake Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
5 to 6 hours or overnight
Mid-June through mid-October
2,960 feet
Trailhead Elevation
4,960 feet
Top Elevation
Cabinet Mountains Wilderness; Kootenai National Forest, Cabinet District
Local Contacts
USGS Elephant Peak
Local Maps