100 Days Outdoors: Cliff Jumping in Montana’s Ironically Cold "Lava Lake" - Backpacker
A few weeks into this hundred day summer road-trip and I didn’t need to read far into people’s expressions upon meeting me: it was time for a rinse.
100 days outdoors - cliff jumping at lava lake

The three-mile hike up into the forests of Montana’s Cascade Canyon feels longer than three miles thanks to the steep, winding switchbacks. But it’s a small price for the feeling of jumping into the cool mountain water and drying off on the warm, giant slabs of granite scattering the lake’s shore.   

While the views are somewhat limited on the first half of the hike, the trees begin to thin out and give way to glimpses of the surrounding canyon as the trail follows the Cascade Creek up its 1600-foot climb. Still, the real view is saved for the top, where creek turns to lake and the canyon, with it’s various surrounding peaks, can be truly appreciated.   

So if you’re in the Bozeman area and need an afternoon escape into the woods or are on an extended road trip and smell particularly bad, Lava Lake is must. Just don’t expect to find any molten volcanic magma!

Watch the Week 3 Video

Water, sun and friendly smiles—all necessary ingredients for jumpstarting summer in Montana. 

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