Statistics: 6 miles roundtrip, ascent 1600 feet.

This hike took us 36 miles south of Bozeman on Highway 191 up the Gallatin Canyon to the Lava Lake exit 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 follows a rocky tributary to the Gallatin River, Cascade Creek.

Cascade Creek

At one point, the path crosses the creek on a bridge made from a log.

Log bridge over Cascade Creek

It was a very warm day as we climbed our way up the trail, and we were looking forward to a refreshing swim at Lava Lake. When we reached the lake, however, a very cool wind and an icy cold lake destroyed that desire. 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 earlier hike, Beehive Basin, was on the far side of Spanish Peaks.)

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