Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,160.00 ft (353.57 m)
Trail type
5.30 mi (8.53 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

As a destination, Golden Trout Lakes makes a wonderful and slightly adventures there and back hike. The trail isn't particularly difficult though it does climb over 1000 feet in elevation and this is with the trailhead beginning at just over 8000 feet.

The trailhead starts roughly 6.5 miles at the end of a gravel, and at times, rather challenging dirt (rocky) forest road. The road begins as Portal Creek Rd. (Portal creek is that body of water at the bottom of the steep drop-off) then eventually becomes Upper Portal Road. It takes approximately 35-45 minutes to drive the road each direction, so plan accordingly. According to internet searches, the road is open year-round, however, given the severity and reputation of Montana's brutal winters, this access is likely afforded to snowmobiles and cross-country skiers in the winter and spring months. Views both up and down the Portal Creek road are breathtaking. 

The Golden Trout Lakes trailhead is also the launch point for Hidden Lake trail, a more popular backpacking route. Golden Trout Lakes is ideal for day hikers and its 5.3 miles is pleasant and beautiful, giving you plenty of Montana's Gallatin Forest backcountry to satisfy even the most seasoned hiker. 

The trail follows a single track that begins uphill through a densely forested area that quickly opens up to sparse meadows. There are many of these meadow features and each one is different. Some are populated with sporadic trees, others are fed by crystalline creeks while a few are rimmed in pine trees and peaks. Within the first mile the trail goes by a small pond, this is not one of the Golden Trout lakes! About 1.5 miles in the trail cruises downhill before beginning a long upward climb that brings you to the middle and largest of the three lakes. Of the other two lakes, the western-most one also has trail access. The smaller one to the east, does not. the trail ends at the largest lake and makes an ideal and obvious turnaround point. 

The trail can have low to moderate foot traffic by backcountry standards. You'll pass people, but they are far and few between. There are rocks and ample places to relax and enjoy a snack near the destination lake. You are in Montana's backcountry so hike with a partner, carry bear spray, and know how to use it. 



Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)


Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Mountain views. Lake views. Solitude.


Remote. Rough road. High altitude.

Trailhead Elevation

8,040.00 ft (2,450.59 m)

Highest point

9,080.00 ft (2,767.58 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Near lake or river
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures


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