Over the 4th of July weekend, I visited Red Lodge, Montana, to do some fishing and to spend time with family. While visiting, my cousin suggested we take a day trip out to a lake to do some fishing!
Now, if you are ever to visit Red Lodge and plan on doing some fishing then Glacier Lake is where you want to go. Glacier Lake, at 9,700 ft. elevation and is about 19 miles southwest of Red Lodge. If you are willing to make the journey, then you are guaranteed to catch fish as they stock the lake once every three years with cutthroat trout that are great eating.
Directions to Glacier Lake: From Red Lodge, drive south on State Hwy 212 (Broadway in Red Lodge) for approximately 11 miles. Turn right (west) at the “campgrounds” sign to three National Forest campgrounds: Parkside, Limberpine and Greenough Lake. After turning off Highway 212, drive on the paved road for a little over ½ mile across the Wyoming Creek Bridge near the Limbepine Campground. The pavement ends as you approach a fork in the road. Turn left for the Glacier Lake Trailhead. The unpaved road follows along Rock Creek gradually climbing for 7 ½ miles to a trailhead/parking area (make sure you have a good off-road vehicle, as a regular car will have a hard time making the remaining 7 ½ mile drive as it is on a rough dirt road. From there it is a 4 mile round trip hike to the lake and back (very scenic).
Best time to go: Early July until late September. If you want to call and check on weather conditions contact the Ranger District at (406) 446 – 2103.
What you will need: this is a short, but strenuous hike (especially if you are not in good shape) as the elevation gain is 1,300 ft. during the hike. Make sure to bring plenty of water, or a water purification pump. Sunscreen. Food (I had some granola bars and a sandwich) this is either a ½ day, or full day outing depending on how long you want to spend, so bring plenty of food. Fishing license (can be purchased in town- a 2-day pass cost me $25). Fishing tackle: I had brought both fly rod and spinning rod. Fly-fishing was good for the first hour until the wind began to pick up, then I switched over to a spinning rod. If you are using a spinning rod, the best lure to use is a gold spoon lure (1 out of 10 cast was a fish on) so they work very well.
If you do not plan on fishing, then overall this is a very scenic hike with lots to see (lakes and streams) so make sure to bring a camera. Please note that this is bear country, so be cautious and practice bear country tactics, attaching a bell to your pack is smart too– fish on!!