Hike of the Month: Rock Creek Falls and Rock Lake


Hiking in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness

September might stay hot and dry in the low nation, but the month normally grants higher nation guests their very first glimpse of the advent of fall. For these who relish fall colour and cooler hiking temperatures, a September stop by to Rock Lake in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness can be an early likelihood to revel in autumn glory. 

Rock Lake reflection with fall colors // Photo by Holly Weiler

Come ready for vast temperature swings and a wide assortment of circumstances when arranging a September stop by to Rock Lake. Daytime temperatures might nonetheless make swimming an selection, but nighttime temperatures are confident to plummet. Daytime rain could really effortlessly turn to overnight snow. The payoff is spectacular colour variations, as huckleberry leaves turn scarlet, larch needles turn golden, and a variety of other native plants fill in all of the colors in involving. The lake surface, in particular on a wind-no cost day, reflects the whole show. Bring a chair to linger and love the view, or take into account this for a late-season overnight trip. A smaller campsite is situated close to the lake outlet.

Rock Lake from above // Photo by Holly Weiler

The trail starts in a forest and ascends an old mining road for its early miles. Extended-abandoned pieces of mining gear are visible in locations along the route. The grade remains mellow for the very first three.five miles to the web page of the old Heildelberg Mine at Rock Creek Falls. From right here, the trail narrows and starts to ascend a lot more steeply for the final 1.five miles to Rock Lake. 

Rock Lake and the surrounding Cabinet Mountain Wilderness enjoys specific protections that limit group size to eight heartbeats and prohibit mechanized gear. The location serves as important habitat to grizzly bears, so overnight guests want to adhere to meals storage suggestions. But the location is also identified for a controversial mine proposal that aims to drill beneath the wilderness to extract copper shops, a proposal that could influence the existence of the lake itself as nicely as all of the waters drained by this watershed. Take a look at Rock Lake to appreciate its intrinsic worth, which is in particular vibrant in the fall.   

Rock Lake with fall colors in September // Photo by Holly Weiler

Round-trip distance: 10 miles

Rating: Moderate

Elevation get: 1938 feet

Map: USGS Elephant Peak

Receiving there: From Highway 200 in Montana, turn north on Government Mountain Road (FR 150) just east of Noxon. In five.three miles, turn correct on FR 150A, which continues 1.five miles and dead-ends at the trailhead. 

Assistance Neighborhood Trails: New to volunteer trail function? Join the Washington Trails Association for an introduction to trailwork on Sept. 14! Understand a lot more and register at wta.org/volunteer.


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