Hyalite Lake (Montana) 21-Aug-2008

Hyalite Lake Montana
As part of our big Western U.S. roadtrip in August, we tried to do a “local” hike in each area we visted. While in Bozeman, Montana we heard about the popular Hyalite Creek Trail located only a few miles outside of town. It was reported to boast a nice trail, 11 waterfalls, a lake, and a summit.  The weather wasn’t fully cooperating (happy turning to sad) but we figured with 11 waterfalls, we’d get to see at least one before it started raining.

We headed south from Bozeman on 19th Avenue, turned left on Hyalite Canyon Road, drove past the reservoir, and on to where the road ends at the Hyalite Creek Trailhead parking lot.

Hyalite Lake Montana

An early version of the “brave hiker smile” at Hyalite Creek

The trail starts as a road and then after a mile becomes an actual trail. At this point it passes beneath a basalt cliff, whose boulder field is home to numerous picas, one of whom actually came down to within three feet to check us out.

Hyalite Lake Montana

A bold (or bored) pica

We crossed a side creek and had a brief flash of sunlight,

Hyalite Lake Montana

A side creek enters Hyalite Creek

before we reached the first waterfall, with 10 more to go.

Hyalite Lake Montana

The first waterfall

As its name suggests, the water at Arch Falls actually cascades through an arch formed in the rock – look how the white strip of water is seemingly cut in half.

Hyalite Lake Montana

Arch Falls

The various falls are not all next to the trail (nor are they all named) and detours of various lengths are required to view them. Although not apparent in this photo, this one has gouged out a large grotto at its base.

Hyalite Lake Montana

Grotto Falls

This one has cut a deep channel – which reminded us of a scaled-down version of parts of Eagle Creek in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

Hyalite Lake Montana

A deep channel eroded in the rock

The trail climbs gradually up the canyon until near its head, where it begins rapidly gaining more altitude through a large number of very long switchbacks.

Hyalite Lake Montana

Looking down Hyalite Canyon

High in the canyon, we passed a very long waterfall, with a detailed upper end,

Hyalite Lake Montana

The upper falls

and a long sweeping cascade for a tail.

Hyalite Lake Montana

The whole thing

After about 6 miles and 1,900 feet of elevation gain, we reached Hyalite Lake.

Hyalite Lake Montana

Hyalite Lake

We thought about continuing on to Hyalite Peak,

Hyalite Lake Montana

The path to Hyalite Peak

but the weather broke just after we reached the lake (the photo doesn’t show the hail that was hitting us), so we retreated to the trailhead in a very Oregon-like drizzle. Although the weather could have been a little brighter, it was still a great hike in a beautiful area. It’s apparently a popular local area, so we saw over a dozen other hikers even on a weekday.

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