Snowshoe Lake Route

Page Type
Montana, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Half a day
Rock Difficulty:
Class 3

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Snowshoe Lake Route
Created On: Oct 5, 2006
Last Edited On: Nov 3, 2006


Snowshoe Lake BowlSnowshoe Bowl
Approaching Snowshoe Peak from the west offers an less technical approach at the cost of distance. Snowshoe Lake does provide three very nice camp sites and puts you within 3 hours of the summit. This route is probably the lesser used route if you are seeking seclusion.

Getting There

From Noxon, Montana go north on Highway 56 for 16 miles and turn east onto South Fork Bull River Road #410. Continue for ~2 Miles and continue right on #410 for one more mile to Road #2722 (Northeast). From here is is about another two miles to the trail head.

The road was well maintained in fall 2006 and a car could have easily made it to the trailhead.

Route Description

North Fork Bull Rive Headwall
Snowshoe Lake

Trail #972 to Snowshoe Lake is a mixed bag of well maintained trail and over grown manway. All together the trail is about 5 miles one way with an elevation gain of around 2700 ft. The first 3 miles to Verdun Creek is very well maintained and well built. The trail rises slowly following the North Fork of the Bull River and you should be able to make good time. At Verdun Creek the trail becomes a manway for the next 2 miles. The path was always clearly visible, but there was plenty of Manzinita, Hucklyberry and Alder growing across the path. Most hikers had done their part in helping to keep the vegetation in check and someone had even cut out many of the alder thickets. The most difficult part of the hike was at the head wall of the North Fork drainage, which rises about 300 feet and offers no easy way up. The manway leads directly to the rock outcropping in the picture to the left and there is a faint trail switchbacking up the rock. It is a steep climb and I don't know if I would attempt it with a full pack in the rain. After the head wall it is a short 200 yards up to Snowshoe Lake.

Once at Snowshoe Lake, we found 3 campsites. The first campsite is probably the least desireable, but has room for 1-2 tents and a good rock to cook on. The second campsite is about half way around the north side of the lake and offers the most room, if you have a large party. There was enough room for three large tents and a good fire ring and you are close to water. The final camp site is the best all around site. Located at the East end of the lake, it offers the shortest approach to the summit as well as the most ammenities. The camping pad very close to the water and has a couple of benches and tables around a very nicely built fire ring. It's one draw back is that the tent pad is only big enough for a single tent.

Snowshoe Peak Summit
From Snowshoe lake there is a foot path leading up the basin toward Snowshoe Peak. We chose to stay to the right hand side of the bowl going up and found an easy route through a cute. This route may be impassable early in the year due to snow. Once on the ridge between Snowshoe Peak and Scotty Peak we kept just to the south side of ridge. The route is steep and has loose talus, but has limited exposure. It is about a half a day scramble from the Lake to the summit and back to Snowshow Lake. I would estimate 3 to 3.5 and about 3000 vertical feet.

Essential Gear

In early season I would recommend crampons and ice axe. In late summer no special climbing gear is required. Be equiped to cross lots of loose shale.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Jakester - Jul 2, 2007 11:57 am - Voted 10/10

Road Wash-Out 7/1/07

The road to this trailhead is closed because of a huge washout. This will add 1.5-2 miles of additional hiking each way. Looks like this road will be closed for a while.

neilsonps04 - Jan 3, 2012 10:26 pm - Hasn't voted

Update January 2012

Today we attempted to find the road to the trailhead, and found out that Forest Service Road 2722 is still washed out. A creek is actually running where the road once was, and a bridge was built over this creek in the summer of 2010, according to someone we talked to at the ranger station.

You can park in the pullout area on the right immediately after the first bridge on Forest Service Road 410 (about a mile after you have branched right). We were told that from there you can follow the creek the 1.5 to 2 miles to the 972 trailhead (we saw a few markings but couldn't see where they led). It looks like pretty heavy bushwacking up to the trailhead, but should be better from there up to Verdun Creek.

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