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Great Falls, MT: Renshaw Lake Loop

This 13.9-mile backcountry getaway features a secluded mountain lake, countless stream crossings, and views across untouched wilderness.

Rating

Get an early start to squeeze this 13.9-mile loop into one day, or savor this super-scenic trip over the course of a weekend. From the overflow parking area in Benchmark, follow Benchmark Creek Trail to the northeast. The trail parallels and crisscrosses its namesake creek—and several tributaries—for the first 3.7 miles. (Tip: Bring an extra pair of socks.) Near mile 4, the path crests an unnamed summit, then climbs to the southeast before dropping down to Renshaw Lake, a quiet mountain tarn rimmed by conifers and a steep scree field. Set up camp beneath the trees, or continue the hike, following Renshaw Creek past wildflowers and grassy meadows. After 8.4 miles, turn right at the T-junction for the return trip, paralleling Fairview Creek. The hike finishes off with an easy, 1.6-mile road walk back to the trailhead.

-Mapped by Mark Taylor

To Trailhead

I-15 N to exit 290 to MT 200 to MT 21 to US 287 to Augusta, MT. Turn right onto Manix St. In 374 feet, turn left onto Laura St. In 0.4 mile, continue on Augusta-Ranger Station Rd./Bench Mark Rd./Nilan Rd. In 14.2 miles, turn left to stay on Bench Mark Rd. In 9 miles, continue straight onto Ranger Station Rd. In 4.5 miles, bear right onto Wood Canyon Rd. In 2 miles, turn right at 3-way intersection. Drive past the sign for Benchmark Creek Trail, then turn right into the overflow parking lot.

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