Glacier National Park: Akokala Lake

Link wooded ridges and a glacier-scraped valley on this 11-miler in Glacier National Park that visits a quiet lake rimmed by rugged peaks.
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Link wooded ridges and a glacier-scraped valley on this 11-miler in Glacier National Park that visits a quiet lake rimmed by rugged peaks.

Start at Bowman Campground on Glacier National Park's west side and hike northwest to a small saddle on Numa Ridge. At mile 1.5, the trail dips down for a brief descent, passing seasonal wildflowers and beargrass, then climbs back up to a shoulder above a glacier-carved valley. From here, it's a .8-mile descent through stands of lodgepole pines to the banks of Akokala Creek. The trail turns right onto Akokala Lake Trail at mile 3.4 and follows the creek to the northeast up the valley. Akokala Lake comes into view 2.1 miles later—bushwhack to the lake's southern shore for views of sheer-walled peaks. Pitch your tent at the lake's campsite or turn around and follow the same route back to the trailhead.
PERMIT: Overnight camping in Glacier National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm.
MORE PARK INFO: Glacier National Park, (406) 888-7800; nps.gov/glac/.
-GPS data provided by the National Park Service

TO TRAILHEAD: From Kalispell, MT, take MT 35 E to MT 206 N to US 2 E to West Glacier. Turn left onto Going to the Sun Hwy. In 2 miles, turn left onto Camas Rd. In 11.7 miles, turn right onto MT 486. In 13.2 miles, turn right onto Polebridge Loop. In .3 mile, turn left to stay on Polebridge Loop. In .7 mile, continue on Glacier Dr. In 1 mile, turn right onto Bowman Lake Rd. Follow 5.5 miles to parking at Bowman Campground.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.9

Waypoints

KAL001

Location: 48.8302192687988, -114.204498291016

From the north end of Bowman Campground, follow West Lakes Trail to the west through thick forest. In the next 1.5 miles, you'll gain nearly 700 feet of elevation.

KAL002

Location: 48.8306579589844, -114.214920043945

Trail switchbacks to the right, then climbs north toward Numa Ridge.

KAL003

Location: 48.8329391479492, -114.213989257812

Keep climbing; follow trail to the northwest up a drainage.

KAL004

Location: 48.8379821777344, -114.223899841309

Trail levels out briefly as it crosses a saddle on Numa Ridge, then descends to the north-northwest. Beargrass and seasonal wildflowers punctuate the forest floor.

KAL005

Location: 48.8513526916504, -114.23070526123

Crest a small shoulder, then begin a .8-mile descent through lodgepole pines to Akokala Creek.

KAL006

Location: 48.8584098815918, -114.232177734375

Cross Akokala Creek; head northwest.

KAL007

Location: 48.8594779968262, -114.233268737793

Turn right @ 3-way onto Akokala Lake Trail. Ahead: The trail climbs gently along Akokala Creek.

KAL008

Location: 48.8604621887207, -114.220367431641

Continue hiking northeast for final 1.5 miles to the lake. Numa Ridge rises on the east.

KAL009

Location: 48.8753776550293, -114.200050354004

Akokala Lake: This small lake is rimmed by rugged mountains. From the south shore of the lake, take in views of Reuter Peak to the northwest and Mount Peabody to the northeast. Set up tents at the campsite on the south end of the lake, or retrace steps to trailhead.