If you are looking for a semi-short hike, good for the whole family, and good for fishing, as long as you don’t mind catching small fish, then Camas Lake might be the place to check out. Even if you just load up your packs with water and your fishing poles or fly rod, it is a nice little hike. A group of us went up there on the Fourth of July that included Jason Maxwell of Missoula, Keyvin and Brittany Weber of Missoula, Larry Goral of Missoula and Kevin Frazier of Florence. There was a family of four camping up there, and the kids, who were probably around 8-10ish, even carried their own packs in, so that should tell you the difficulty level of the trail. There are a few creeks that the trail crosses on the way, too, so if your dog(s) go with you, they will have some places along the way to cool off a bit and drink some cold water.
From the trailhead to the lake and around the lake and back, it was just barely under seven miles. So, it is right about, or just over, three miles each way, and even in 90+ degree weather, it was not bad at all as long as you have water with you. Here are a couple of extra tips I have for anybody who is planning on heading to Camas Lake in the near future, based on my own experience:
- Don’t wear flip-flops…and if you do, bring an extra pair. My flip-flop blew out on the way up, but thank goodness it didn’t break it enough for the shoe to not be usable. (and yes, I was told by many how crazy I was for wearing flip-flops, but the trail is definitely doable with flip-flops, and I didn’t have to take off my shoes to get in the water-ha)
- Bring bug spray – The horse flies are relentless on the trail and on the way up there. I am just glad my buddy Kevin was prepared for all of us and brought bug spray…..very nice.
- If you have a large dog who doesn’t listen well to you or anybody, don’t walk him/her across the log bridge….you’re better off walking your dog through the shallow creek below at the bottom. Our Irish Wolfhound decided he had to run ahead of everybody and actually fell off the bridge. No injuries, thank goodness, but I am sure he has a nice bruise from the rocks in the creek. It could have been avoided altogether.
- If you plan on staying up there for a while or overnight, I suggest bringing a floatation device with a paddle. The fish were jumping all over the lake, but getting in the middle to the deeper water would have been awesome. That is probably where the slightly bigger fish are, too.
- HAVE FUN! The difficulty level is beginner to moderate, and the trail is a bit rocky in some spots, but is a gradual incline with a very clear trail on the way up–and it’s obviously all downhill on the way back. There is so much to see and appreciate during this hike. Huckleberries, wildflowers, a nice view of the Bitterroot valley and the end result of the lake–What’s not to love? Enjoy!
Here are some pics of our trip and some pics of the lake:
The beginning of the hike in…the trail is nice
Stopping to sneak a peek at the beautiful Bitterroot valley
We made it! Such a pretty little lake.
Kevin caught the first fish out of everybody!
Keyvin’s first of many fish of the day!
Brittany’s turn to fish!
Just under seven miles later, here we were back at the trailhead! (L to R: Larry Goral, Kevin Frazier, Brittany Weber, Keyvin Weber, Jason Maxwell, Angela Montana)
Nothing like finishing our day of celebrating our independence by watching the nieces and nephew play with glow sticks and necklaces. Good times for sure.
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend–thank a veteran every day!