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Otokomi Lake

Otokomi Lake – 11 miles round trip
A strenuous hike with a 1900 ft. elevation gain.

The trailhead is located to the left of Rising Sun Camp Store. Wildflowers and berry bushes create a thick undergrowth here along the forested valley. Hiking the trail we listen to the sounds of Rose Creek gurgling over falls and cascades and swirling into pools as it rushes alongside the trail. We follow the trail through the thick forest going uphill through several switchbacks, which make the elevation gain easier. Coming out of the forest, the view of Goat Mountain is spectacular. Rose Creek below us is a sight to behold also. A variety of wildflowers and berry bushes are close to the trail, adding color and interest to the photos we are taking. We come close to Rose Creek again at an avalanche area and as we look at the tangled trees and debris and stop to contemplate what it must have been like when the avalanche plowed through here with a thunderous roar. Continuing on, the trail again goes through a series of switchbacks. We listen to the Stellar Jays scolding the chipmunks as they gather their food for the coming winter months. Coming to the lake we pass through an avalanche area and over a sloping mass of loose rock below the cliffs above. Otokomi Lake lies in a bowl between mountains of red argillite rock and green forest. The lake is a deep blue-green and the sight is awesome and worth the effort of getting there.

Hiking to Otokomi Lake

Otokomi in the language of the Blackfeet Indians, meant "Yellow Fish." To us it’s a beautiful lake, high up in the mountains. It’s well worth the challenging eleven mile hike.
Our hike will start from the trail head, just left of the camp store at Rising Sun. We will follow Rose Creek, where the undergrowth is quite heavy and we will want to wear some waterproof clothing, as it remains quite damp at times.

As we follow Rose Creek, we are treated to many lovely sights of rushing water, water falls and quieter still pools of water. A photographers delight. Most of these sights can not be seen, from the "Going To The Sun road. It’s only by hiking this lovely trail that we can experience, such a peaceful bit of nature.

As we approach the Rose Basin, we are amazed to find some of the most beautiful colored rocks imaginable. Lake Otokomi sits in this basin. On a day when the sun hits them, the many colors are striking. The sparkling clear water makes the colors even more intense.

As we walk along Rose Creek, we will go through juniper trees, Douglas fir, maple, and many other tall trees. On the ground we find wild roses, asters, paintbrush, fireweed and beargrass. This trail shows off nature at her best.

As we leave the creek side, we will climb the trail upward going back and forth on switchbacks. We will climb through a forest of Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine. The needles from these trees will make soft footing through here. This is a dense area with trees, but bird calls will fill the air.

Suddenly, we walk out of the trees and find we are high above Rose creek. The view shows us the impressive, Goat Mountain, as it rises to an altitude of 8,826 feet. What a view!!

As we continue we catch glimpses of Rose Creek far below as it rushes and tumbles, into waterfalls and pools.

We will once again come to Rose Creek at a higher altitude, as we find an avalanche shoot. Several years ago, an avalanche of giant size came sliding down through this path. It wiped out trees all along the way. They can still be seen as they were left, when the snow melted.

We are still climbing, through yet another forest of white pine. We can find many birds here also. After crossing a stony area, we will see ahead of us, Otokomi Lake. Here it sits in a basin carved out by Glaciers of the past. We can now sit and think about this beautiful spot, where higher up we look at red argillite peaks rising high above the timber line. We gaze at Goat Mountain and wishing the whole world could know the peace and beauty of this place.

In the quiet of all this serenity, we suddenly know that we are not alone, and that we have been watched as we hike this trail. High above us we hear the scream of an Eagle. She soars on the wind currents and never misses a trick. Her eyes are sharp and bright. She is our National Emblem since 1782. She is a large bird and can weigh up to 15 pounds. With a wing span of 6 to 8 feet. If all goes well, she could live for 40 years .

We sit here and enjoy our view and this lovely opportunity to share it with this symbol of our great country.

The next time you visit our Glacier National Park, consider taking this hike. It will give you memories to recall for many years.

About Otokomi Lake was written by Verna Parks.  



Glacier National Park is located in the northwest corner of Montana, just north of Columbia Falls. The park encompasses more than one million acres and is home to grizzly bear, moose, elk, along with 63 varieties of wild mammals. While most of the roads in Glacier National Park are closed off during the winter, this provides miles and miles of tracks for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Visitors are seldom around in the dead of winter, so the muffled hush of the snow covered woods is especially enticing and serene.

A ski or snowshoe trip along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is one of the most scenic roads in North America, is a great option, according to park rangers. The road is closed to cars from September or October until snowmelt, usually in June. Several short hiking trails branch off from the road, which would be excellent for snowshoeing or skiing in the winter season.

 Once you have your gear, head up to Glacier National Park for an exciting adventure. Guided snowshoe trips are available, led by a park naturalist, and are highly recommended. If you are looking for an informative tour, snowshoeing is an easy way to explore the winter wonderland of this unique park. Snowshoeing will provide even the novice an effortless activity so your senses are more in tune with your environment and your guide's knowledge on the history, wildlife, geology, and biology of this precious ecosystem.

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