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Trail Well Traveled – 7/14

Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!

Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give you some helpful details and tips to get on your way!

Halfway through the summer, we’re only just now able to access some of the high country. This week, Craig celebrates that with a hike in the beautiful Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area.

All this hot weather has finally made the high country accessible, so this week Craig is sending just a short drive north to the beautiful and wild Swan Range.

Bobcat Lakes, Trail #226

Knock off three beautiful high-mountain lakes in one hike!

Round Trip: 8.2 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 1,915 feet

Directions: From Missoula, first head east on I-90 towards Butte. Take Exit 219 and head south on I-15 (Veterans Memorial Highway), and then take Exit 102 at Highway 43 and head west.

When you get to Wise River, turn south onto Pioneer Mountain Scene Byway (Forest Service Highway 73) for 17 miles. Then take a right onto Lacy Creek Road (Forest Service Road 1299) and continue for 3.8 miles until the road comes to an end at the trailhead.

What to expect: The trail begins with a long, steady, ridge-line climb through a beautiful open lodgepole forest. Most of the elevation gain occurs in this initial climb: about 1,300 feet in the first two miles with an average grade of about 12 percent. The trail bed is well worn and easy to follow.

After the first 2 miles, the trail drops off the ridge to the right and descends about 300 feet in the course of a mile through much more lush and densely packed forest. There are several stream crossings in this section with bridges.

To reach the first of the Bobcat Lakes you’ll climb up and over a bowl into a mountain drainage. This climb of about 400 feet occurs over approximately one-half mile – with an average grade of around 15 percent – before the trail levels out.

The lake is surrounded by lush green forest and marshy area.

To reach the other two lakes, continue on the trail to the left of the first one. There is a short half-mile climb up to the second lake, which is bordered on one side by a stunning boulder field and on the other by forest. The third lake is another half-mile down the same trail.

Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:50 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!

Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!

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