A Stunning Hike to Leigh Lake

The day before our build started in Libby we took an early morning hike up the short trail to Leigh Lake. Though our route was only a little more than 4 miles roundtrip (including side trips and some exploring around the lake after the trail dead ended), we were hiking for over 3 hours due to the steepness of the trail and the sustained scrambling up the granite as we neared the lake.

The trail began climbing right from the trailhead under full tree cover that was dense enough for the first mile to prevent us from knowing which peak we were headed to. It was only after gaining 500 or 600 feet that we realized we’d been ascending along the side of a gulch and were headed for the bowl near the high peaks. Soon after the first vista, the trees thin as the trail continues winding up the granite; at this point it’s possible to see the creek – hitherto only heard – spilling down the valley hundreds of feet below.

As we continued ascending the forest gave way to bare, glacially-sculpted granite – and then we caught sight of the waterfall tumbling down the fractured rock. I have seen many a waterfall but this one ranks very high on the list. It’s multi-tiered drops, perfectly framed by the tall fir trees, was an amazing sight to behold.

After pausing to admire the water rushing down from the lake we turned up the steep rock incline and began our sustained scramble. Due to the fact that I was using my hands to make my way up I didn’t take too many photographs here so you’ll have to take my word on the prolonged, steep grade. At least one out of three of us felt it was a little too much time with the front paws down, so to speak, and I think we all appreciated when the trail flattened out after we’d reached the lip of the bowl

Leigh Lake was absolutely gorgeous. Heavier cloud cover had moved in as we scrambled but despite the darkened skies the bear grass glowed and the vibrant wildflowers popped in color as we approached the shore. Ribbons of snow clung to the ledges of the glacial cirque in which the lake was nestled and the reflections on the glassy surface of the water were magnificent. The clarity of the water too was amazing; I wish that we’d had more sunlight to illuminate the photos I took. The gray clouds had no effect on our enjoyment of the scenery however; our hike to Leigh Lake was one of the best hikes we’ve taken all year. Truly, my photos do not do it justice.