Budget Backpacking to Arrow Lake in Glacier National Park

Arrow Lake is located in Glacier National Park. As your drive to Glacier you travel through rolling foothills only to suddenly see this geological wonder of huge mountains jutting out of the landscape. Known for its pristine forests, alpine lakes and meadows, rugged mountains, and diverse wildlife, Glacier is truly a unique place. I’ve known people who have traveled the world over and still say that it is their favorite outdoor place on earth. With over 700 miles of trails, mountains and lakes, Glacier is an adventurers paradise.

The trail to Arrow Lake begins to climb immediately at a moderate rate and continues to the top of the ridge (2.5 miles). There are only a few view spots where you can see Lake McDonald. At the top of the ridge there is a sign indicating an old fire lookout. The trail to this lookout is old and nearly gone.

The trail moves through a wide saddle and then drops steeply using switchbacks to the Camas Creek Valley. At a bit more than 3 miles the trail forks, going left to Rodger Lake and right to Trout, Arrow, Camas, Evangeline, and Ruger Lakes. Go right. An old campsite sits .25 miles up the trail along Trout Lake. There is a large logjam across Trout Lake that is useful for fishing. Bears cross on this logjam also. One of the first recorded kills of a visitor to the park by a bear happened at this spot. There is no longer a campsite at Trout Lake.

The main backcountry campsite is 3.5 miles up the trail at Arrow Lake. This is a small campground with a good food prep area; bear pole, privy and 2 hitching rails. The trail to the head of the lake requires a crossing of the stream at the foot of the lake. There are stepping stones, but they are slick and some are slightly submerged. The stream is only a foot deep at the crossing and feels good on tired feet.

The trail from Arrow Lake to Camas Lake is well maintained and provides spectacular views. There is a campsite at Camas Lake. The food prep area is very exposed to the wind off the Lake. Lake Evangeline and Ruger Lake are located farther up the valley and require much bushwhacking to reach. There are large damp meadows above Camas lake with a lot of elk and deer sign. There are a lot of exposed slopes in this valley and it is a damp location making it ideal for berry bushes. This also means that this is serious bear country.

For current regulations and directions see Park website:

Glacier National Park National Park Service
P.O. Box 128 West Glacier, MT 59936
(406) 888-7800
(406) 8887808 fax
http://www.nps.gov/glac/ website