Louise Lake is a short, family friendly day hike located in the Tobacco Root Mountains. The trail offers beautiful views of the Beaverheard-Deerlodge National Forest, but the biggest draw to Louise Lake is the giant cutthroat trout.
From Bozeman head West on I-90. Follow I-90 W for about 50 miles to MT-2 E/MT-359 in Cardwell. Take Montana Highway 359 south for approximately five miles to South Boulder Road. Travel south for approximately 15 miles to the trailhead at Bismark Reservoir.
Gradual switchbacks make for a steady climb up to the lake.
Averaging about two miles per hour, you'll get to the top of this hike in just under two hours. The trip down shouldn't take more than an hour and a half, leaving plenty of time for fishing and relaxing while you're at the lake.
This route starts at 7589 feet above sea level and ends at 8894 feet.
The crystal-clear waters of Louise Lake are surrounded by pine trees and towering mountain peaks. You also have a stunning view of the 10,353 ft. Middle Mountain to the south.
This trail intersects a creek several times throughout the hike and ends at a lake.
This is a short hike and food is not required, but you might consider bringing a small lunch or snack to eat up at the lake.
The wide dirt trail is well beaten and easy to find.
Frequent water and shade make this a great hike for most dogs.
The last two miles of road leading up to the trailhead are best traveled by a high clearance vehicles. If you only have a car you might consider parking down the road and walking the last two miles up to the trail.
Beartooth Publishing's map of the Tobacco Root Mountains covers this hike and part of the drive.
There are a couple of trails that start from this small parking lot, so spaces might be scarce.
There's an outhouse and a vault toilet past Mammoth along the dirt road leading up to the trailhead.
An easy, scenic, hike with great fishing usually means heavy foot traffic, but this is not the case for Louise Lake trail. The distance from popular tourist destinations and the extremely rough road keeps the traffic down to an enjoyable level.
There is a nice mix of shade and sun on this trail. Shorts and a t-shirt would be fine in the warmer months because you won't be trekking through any tall grass on the trail. Consider bringing a swimsuit and towel just in case you feel like going for an icy dip in the lake.
Tennis shoes are OK on this hike.
In the thicker parts of the trees and near the lake you may experience a light amount mosquitoes and flies.
A nice mix of shade and sun.
Verizon picks up a few bars at the Lake, but you will not have service the the majority of the hike/drive.
Along the road south of Mammoth there are quite a few car camping spots. Additionally, up at the lake there are some well used tent spots if you're interested in backpacking.