The 16.8-mile trek into Isabel Lake from the Walton Ranger Station offers a lesser-traveled route for those seeking an alternative to the more popular Glacier destinations. Start on the Boundary Trail and hike north along the Middle Fork of the Flathead. The trail climbs up a hillside above the river, then wraps around the base of Scalplock Mountain. Douglas fir and larch trees flank the trail.
At mile 3.4, turn right and hike northeast up the Park Creek valley. The 11-mile stretch through the valley crosses marshy meadows and passes the lower and upper Park Creek campgrounds. After 14.5 miles, bear left onto Lake Isabel Trail for the final 2.3-mile climb to Lake Isabel, a trout-filled lake nestled beneath a rugged cirque. Set up camp on the north side of the lake, 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