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Trail Well Traveled – 9/15

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!

It looks like we’ll finally enjoy some respite from all the smoke this weekend, so for the first time in weeks we’re not allowing air quality maps to dictate where and how we enjoy Montana’s great outdoors!

Instead we’re going to send you on a pretty vigorous hike up north, just a bit past Arlee where EWAM Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is holding its 13th annual Festival of Peace. What better way to honor one of the last weekends of summer than by working up a sweat and celebrating some peace?

Mission Falls & Lucifer Lake

A moderate hike to waterfalls with a beautiful view of the Mission Valley below, and on to a lake that certainly has earned its name!


Round Trip: 7.4 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 2,709 feet

Directions: From Missoula, head west on I-90 to the Wye, and then take the exit north on Highway 93 as though headed to Kalispell.

Just a few miles before you reach St. Ignatius, you’ll see signs for Old Highway 93. Turn there, and follow the road east and northeast until you reach St. Mary’s Lake Road on the southern edge of town.

Continue down St. Mary’s Lake Road, past where it starts to veer off to the south a bit, and just beyond that point you’ll reach its intersection with Mission Dam Road. Follow it all the way around the northern short of Mission Reservoir and on to Mission Falls Campground, about 7.4 miles from the highway.

What to expect: The hike to Mission Falls takes just under two hours, and you’ll definitely work up a sweat – so plan on taking plenty of water.

And then, from the falls, its an even tougher hike to the lake. The trail is not well maintained, and a keen eye is needed to find the markers left by previous hikers.

The hike will take you up through rocks, waterfalls, meadows, and thick trees. There are a few places to stop and rest along the way, but for the most part, it’s a continuous climb.

The lake at the top is a sweet prize for the pain of the hike.  The clear waters are full of fish, the views are spectacular and the air crystal clear.  Consider camping a night or two: There are flat spots for tent sites and a few rock rings for fires. It gets very cold at night, so proper equipment is a must.

The hike down is much faster; however, your feet will take a beating. Be prepared for blisters; and you might even consider lowering your pack by rope at a few places along the way.

Note: In addition to water, be sure to take plenty of mosquito spray and you’re DEEP in bear country, so don’t forget the bear spray. In fact, it would be wisest to hike in a group.

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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