Black Canyon Lake

Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness

Northern Absaroka Range, Montana

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Black Canyon Lake


  • Lake Fork Trailhead parking.- Black Canyon Lake
  • The first 5 miles of this hike run along the Lake Fork.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Silver Run Plateau's cliffs from the trail.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Moose along the Lake Fork.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Fly fishing the Lake Fork.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Wide, forested trail on the way to Black Canyon Lake.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Thunder Mountain from the bridge to Sundance Pass.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Find the creek on your right en route to the lake.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Steep cliffs of the Hellroaring Plateau.- Black Canyon Lake
  • The trail traverses a large boulder field.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Evening sun over Black Canyon Lake with Spirit Mountain at the center and Grasshopper Glacier to its right.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Morning sun brings out the lake's turquoise color.- Black Canyon Lake
  • A top-notch backcountry camping spot at Black Canyon Lake.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Back down the boulder field leaving Black Canyon Lake.- Black Canyon Lake
  • Quick side-trip to Lost Lake from the Lake Fork Trail.- Black Canyon Lake
Overview + Weather
Glacier viewing. Animal sightings. Great views all around.
Trail sometimes hard to find. Traverse across boulder field.
Northern Absaroka Range, MT
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,012.00 ft (613.26 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
14.00 mi (22.53 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,200.00 ft (2,194.56 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Hidden within Montana’s picturesque Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness lies Black Canyon Lake, an incredible turquoise glacial lake. The spur hike to the lake turns away many hikers because the trail can be hard to find at times and crosses a large boulder field. For the adventurous, however, Black Canyon Lake can easily become an unforgettable experience.

The first 5 miles of the trail follows the Lake Fork of Rock Creek and lies in the canyon between Silver Run and Hellroaring Plateaus. The lodgepole pine forest brings shade to the trail and provides perfect habitat for wildlife sightings. This section is also popular with hikers and horseback riders.

At about 5 miles in, pass a spur trail to Lost Lake and continue forward until you come to a large footbridge over the creek. On your side of the bridge, you should be able to see an uphill spur trail to your left — take it. Follow the most worn path. If you see a “no campfire” sign, you are on track. At a small, rocky stream crossing not far from the sign, look upstream to see the trail continuing to the left of the creek bed. The trail winds through dense forest and has several fallen trees. The trail does cross the creek again; rock hop your way to the other side. At the onset of the boulder field, let numerous cairns guide you across. Tread slowly and carefully.

At long last, marvel at the beauty of Black Canyon Lake. See Spirit Mountain across the lake with Grasshopper Glacier on its right. This glacier derives its name from millions of extinct grasshoppers embedded in the ice! It is believed the grasshoppers got caught in a storm over the mountains and fell to the glacier, where they became buried in ice over time.

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Nearby Adventures

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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