Statistics: 6 miles roundtrip, ascent 1600 feet.

This hike took us back through the Gallatin Canyon and Highway 191 to the Lava Lake exit, 36 miles south of Bozeman and just north of the Gallatin River Bridge. Lava Lake is a very popular trail so expect to see many hikers along the way.

For most of the hike, the rock strewn trail leaves the Gallatin River, following a rocky tributary named Cascade Creek.

Cascade Creek

At one point, the path crosses the creek on a bridge made from a log. Thankfully, a handrail was included!

Log bridge over Cascade Creek

The day was warm as we climbed our way up the trail, and we were looking forward to a refreshing swim at Lava Lake. However, a cool wind greeted us at an icy cold Lava Lake; we lost our interest in the anticipated, cooling dunk in the lake. Interestingly, Lava Lake is the only lake in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness not formed by glacial action as it was created by a massive landslide which dammed the creek which now feeds it. With the Spanish Peaks in the distance and the steep mountainsides running into the lake, it is a beautiful scene. (Our hike of two days earlier, Beehive Basin, was on the far side of the Spanish Peaks.)

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