wolverine lake

Hike to Wolverine Lake

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After another ridiculously long drive into Ten Lakes Scenic Area (see my previous post Hike to Bluebird Lake for the other long drive), Annie and I set out to hike to Wolverine Lake.  The parking area at the dead end is small, and a trailhead may be found on both sides of the road.  The trail to Wolverine Lake begins on the north side of the road near the posted information board.

This hike was not on my trusty AllTrails app.  My friend Keith, who lives in nearby Eureka, suggested it.  I scanned the general description online and decided a 3.5-mile hike would be a nice easy option for the day.  Since I didn’t have a map, I snapped a picture of one online, and also snapped a picture of the food hanging structure map posted on the information board for those who are camping.

Hike to Wolverine Lake

It wasn’t until I had hiked about an hour through the forest and seemed far away from any type of basin for a lake, that I realized the mileage listed on the Visit Montana website was one way! 

I had to adjust my mental state quickly because suffering from one of my headaches, I wasn’t in the mood for a 7-mile hike.  As I trudged through the dense forest, I hoped to myself, this better be one heck of a lake. And that it was!

Fortunately, the trail was surprisingly well maintained with little snow.  The single-track, which gained most of its elevation early, featured boardwalks and bridges over multiple water crossings.

boardwalk on wolverine lake trail

I wouldn’t have guessed it from the rugged parking area.  What a welcome surprise!  These bridges were the first I’ve seen in most of the last 15 hikes I’ve completed this past month.  They are generally rare to find in National Forest Scenic Areas too.

Border Patrol Cabin

The path dotted with beargrass, Indian paintbrush, and glacier lilies was easy to follow until it reached an old border patrolman’s cabin near the top. The cabin with two bunks, a wood stove, cooking utensils, and a guest book is available on first come, first serve basis.  The way it was boarded up, I knew I was there first!  But I wasn’t planning on staying the night, so some other lucky soles can use it.

First Lake

From the cabin, trails branched out in all directions.  I oriented the picture of the food hanging structure map with the cabin and found the path straight ahead from the cabin door would lead me the shortest distance to a lake. Annie and strolled its right bank while taking in the views.

first Wolverine Lake

Second Lake

Then we retraced our steps.  This time, with our backs to the cabin, we took the path to our right (northeast).  It was just a little bit further to this lake, which was simply beautiful.  I have found that I love cerulean lakes tucked beneath granite cliffs.

Once more, we followed the shoreline around to the right where the recent snowmelt was covering an old campfire ring.  Potential flooding and contaminants getting into the water are just a few of the many reasons why it is recommended to camp 200 feet from a water source.  I, however, have seen countless campsites next to lake shores. 

Anyway, the heavy snowmelt also created a cute little island and a perfect, low-lying peninsula for lunch.  As I sat with Annie enjoying my snack, I kept staring down at the rocky ledge in the crystal-clear water.

For whatever reason, as much as I like hiking to lakes, I hardly like getting in them.  Mountain lakes are too cold and warm weather lakes with moss and water moccasins are just gross.  You smell like lake water until you shower!

Ice Cold Dip into Wolverine Lake

The moss free, rocky ledge in the turquoise water, however, just kept beckoning me.  If there was ever a lake to slide into, this was it.  Over and over, I told myself, “no.”  But the want remained.  At my age, if you want to do something, you should do it, as you might not get another chance.

The next thing I know, I took an ice-cold dip in my birthday suit.  I’m not even sure if I lasted 30 seconds.  I slipped onto the ledge, sat in the waist deep water, turned over, pushed myself backwards, dunked my head, and shot out! 

wolverine lake

The last time I was in a glacial lake was in Glacier National Park 22 years ago.  And I only managed jumping off a cliff into that one because I couldn’t be out done by my friend!

In addition to skinny dipping in the glacial pool just yards from the trail in the National Park, we hiked 17 miles in our Tevas and likely just jog bras up to a ridge that was so windy, we had to crawl on our hands and knees. 

It was dusk at the end of our return, so we sang American Pie over and over to keep the grizzlies at bay.  Being a 7-minute song, we didn’t have to sing it too many times! At least we had backpacks with water, food, and a jacket?!?  I swear if you live through your twenties, your average life expectancy must triple. We were the young adults that make me cringe when I see such a type now! But I digress.

Back to Wolverine Lake.  Again, I shot out of the water.  I should mention, I have done the polar plunge in Antarctica and the Arctic, and Montana’s glacial melt has felt colder both times.  As I reached for my clothes, I was reminded of the Facebook trend of women posting topless pictures on mountain peaks.  I thought it was so ridiculous when they said it was freeing.  But strangely, it kind of was!  I, on the other hand, did not digitize the moment for all to see.

Lots of Fish in Wolverine Lake

Instead, I dressed quickly, in case an unsuspecting hiker or mountain goat suddenly joined me. Before I left, I took a moment to walk the shore in the opposite direction and look for fish.  There were tons of them all hovered in one area.  I know why someone asked me just a few days later if there were a lot of fisherman up there. Nope, just me.

Anyway, I gathered my things (almost forgot my phone) and rounded up Annie for our return to VANgo.  I didn’t run into to anyone until I was just yards from the parking lot.  It was a group of six boys and two men!  All I could think of was I’m glad they didn’t start their hike to Wolverine Lake until the afternoon! ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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