Otokomi Lake in Glacier National Park is a less traveled trail, often overlooked in favor of the classics. However I personally love this trail. So much so that I hesitated for over a year to even write about it. After all, it’s kind of nice to hike on less known and less travelled trails.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty much every trail in Glacier is fairly well traveled these days, and that the popular trails will always be the first stops. One of my best friends and I have hiked this trail together a few times now, and it’s become our ‘classic’. I even took Tyler along on this one when we were dating, and he really enjoyed it as well.
There was a forest fire here a couple years back, so the trail begins through the burnt remains. As it winds upwards you come to a creek with mini waterfalls that you’ll follow most of the way towards the lake.
Otokomi Lake Trail Breakdown:
Mileage: 10.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation: about 1,800′ gained to the lake
Location: St Mary’s valley, the trail begins at the Rising Sun Motor Inn, and is located just west of the main building.
Tips: 1) The Otokomi Lake Trail is sometimes referred to as the Rose Creek Trail – they are one and the same!
2) This is grizzly country, so be sure to pack bear spray, and know how to use it, as well as taking the usual precautions like making noise along the trail to alert them of your presence.
We went in late summer, and the huckleberries were abundant. In fact the bushes were so loaded with berries it was hard not to stop every few feet for some more berries! (Just a word of caution, Do Not! eat anything in the wild if you don’t know what it is, some things are poisonous.)
The first time I ever hiked Otokomi, it was in the dead heat of summer, and we were just dripping. So on the way back down, my friend and I stopped and swam in one of these gorgeous pools. As magical as it looks, I think the word ‘swam’ might really be an exaggeration since it was so cold. And by cold, I mean this water will give you and ice cream headache with one quick dip under. The temperature varies a bit from year to year depending on the amount of snow melt, but it’s definitely always cold!
Once you leave the creek behind, the views begin to open up as you make your way to the lake.
And then, if finally emerges. The trail will take you right up to the waters edge, but you’ll then want to backtrack a bit, cross the river, and follow that trail up the left side of the lake.
It’s a little bit of extra mileage, but so worth it to sit on this beautiful shore for lunch!
The red rock of this lake is absolutely unreal. Especially in contrast with the intensely blue water in the deep areas. Each time I’ve visited Otokomi Lake, I’ve spent a good amount of time right here just soaking in this view. And each time, I remind myself that I really need to come back with a backcountry permit to camp overnight!