Every time we venture into the Rocky Mountain Front, we are in awe of the rugged beauty this region of Montana contains. Living in Great Falls, we tend to head to this area frequently when we’re looking for a day in the mountains, and the hike to Our Lake is definitely an adventure we won’t get tired of. Waterfalls, moss-covered trees, a variety of wildlife, and stunning mountain and lake views all make this hike a pretty incredible one.
Getting to the Our Lake Trailhead
Choteau is the nearest town to the Our Lake trailhead. From Choteau, head north on Highway 89, then turn left onto Teton Canyon Road and head west towards the Rocky Mountain Front. As you near the Ear Mountain recreational area, take a left on Bellview Cutacross Road. You’ll now be on a gravel road.
Just after the road crosses the river, turn right onto South Fork Road. This road winds into the Rocky Mountain Front along the south fork of the Teton River and will dead end at the trailhead. The road is pretty well-graded, but there are a few potholes to watch out for and sometimes large rocks in the road, especially after recent rain or snowmelt. It is not plowed in the winter months, so access by vehicle isn’t always possible year round.
The trailhead is just over 30 miles one way from Choteau and there are no services out here, so make sure you have enough gas, water, etc. for your adventure. At the trailhead, there is a wide dirt area for parking, some camp spots, and a vault toilet.
Fees & Regulations
The Our Lake Trail is located in Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. There are no fees to park and hike to Our Lake.
Pets are permitted on leash. Check the National Forest Service webpage for more information on any closures or alerts for this area.
Hiking the Our Lake Trail
Hike Type: Moderate out-and-back trail
Distance: 6.3mi (10km) roundtrip – plus 0.7mi (1.3km) if you walk the loop around the lake
Elevation Gain: 1,512ft (461m)
Duration: 3-4 hours
We first attempted to hike to Our Lake a few years ago on a chilly morning in mid-October. The start of the hike was clear, albeit a bit muddy. But when we reached the higher scree fields, the snow covering the trail became quite deep and thick fog and snow rolled in, obscuring the views. Our subsequent adventures to Our Lake in the summer were a bit more enjoyable!
The first portion of the trail consists of switchbacks through the woods. The path is surrounded by moss-covered pines, raspberry bushes, wildflowers and other dense vegetation. When you come to a fork in the trail, stick to the right, following the wooden sign pointing towards Our Lake.
Soon, glimpses of the surrounding rugged peaks begin to show through the trees. The trail is a steady uphill, and as you climb higher, the path reaches a scree field. The path skirts along the face of the peak and it is a bit narrow and rocky here, so use a little extra caution. As you walk through this wide open space, don’t forget to stop and take in the vast mountain views and look for the waterfall ahead!
Once you cross the scree field, there is a small path detouring towards the top of the large waterfall and the base of a small cascade just above it. From near the falls, the main path flattens out a bit as you make your way up the valley. There are some nice backcountry camping spots and an old pit toilet tucked in the woods just off the trail. This is where the last ascent to Our Lake begins.
The trail passes another pretty waterfall and re-enters the woods, winding up the hillside. The first time we hiked here, this portion of the trail was not visible beneath all of the snow and the peaks around us were completely hidden behind the fog, so we weren’t sure if we were even going the right way. The next time around, we were thrilled with the clear blue skies and warm weather.
The last climb to the lake is a bit steep, but before you know it, the path passes over the crest of the hill and opens up to the stunning shoreline. The blue-green water of Our Lake surrounded by rugged peaks is absolutely beautiful! There are many boulders to hang out on, or you can continue walking the flat trail around the water.
What to Bring to Hike to Our Lake
Snacks/Meals: In case you want to refuel along the way. The lake is also a great place to enjoy a packed lunch!
Bug Spray: We didn’t encounter many bugs when we’ve gone to Our Lake, but we’ve had friends mention bad flies and some mosquitoes. The past couple springs were also awful tick seasons, so consider bug sprays that repel these pests and keep an eye out for ticks if you decide to set down your pack or take a seat at any point.
Bear Spray: Bears frequent this area. Bring your bear spray and know how to use it.
Sturdy Hiking Shoes: The trail is steep and rocky in spots, so wear comfortable hiking shoes with sturdy tread.
Sun Protection: Portions of the trail lack shade, so wear sunscreen, a hat, and/or sunglasses.
Layers: Our Lake sits at over 7,000 feet, so it can get chilly, even in the summer. The weather can also change quickly. So, we recommend wearing or bringing along some layers.
Snow Gear: If you hike in the fall or spring, there may be some snow covering the trail, so consider bringing crampons or other type of ice traction gear. During periods of heavier snow, you may want snowshoes.
Hiking to Our Lake presents the opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife. This may include pika, marmots, deer, mountain goats, and various birds. During our last trip to Our Lake, we were lucky to see many mountain goats. A curious group even ventured pretty close as we were relaxing on a boulder by the shore.
Bears are also common in the Rocky Mountain Front. So we recommend understanding what to do in case of an encounter before venturing out into many natural spaces in Montana.
We haven’t fished at Our Lake, but we saw some big trout swimming around and have seen others fishing along the shoreline and hiking up with their poles. If you head up there to fish, make sure you understand the fishing regulations for the area and have your Montana fishing license.
Camping Near Our Lake
If you’d like to spend more time enjoying the area, there are quite a few free dispersed camping spots near the trailhead and along the trail in the backcountry. Camping is not permitted within 1,000 feet of the shore of Our Lake.
Practice the Leave No Trace principles and camp at previously disturbed spots. Before camping, check the fire regulations for the area. This region also generally has food storage orders in effect due to the many bears here. Be sure to use proper food storage methods and understand the regulations.