On my recent hike to Stahl Peak in Eureka, I met some ladies from Kalispell who recommended Lupine Lake Trail. It so happened that I marked it as one of the hikes I wanted to take, so I made sure to check it out.
The 4.9 mile moderate trail to Lupine Lake is located in the Flathead National Forest, about 36 miles west of Kalispell. The drive to the trail was easy, and road should be called Bunny Hop. I’ve never seen so many rabbits dart across the road.
Despite getting a mid-morning start, I was the first to arrive and parked in the small roadside pullout, with enough room for five cars or so.
The Hike to Lupine Lake
The trail to Lupine Lake begins with a steep descent which is never my favorite because it means I must climb up the path at the end of my hike!
But the descent takes you down to a canyon with a waterfall before it turns and ascends through a shady forest. I’m not sure why this forest felt so tranquil to me. Perhaps it was shadowy designs on the soft, pine needle strewn trail as the sun poked through the straight trunked pines. I could really see how the ladies would like this trail.
Nearing the lake, I came across hundreds of trees down in the forest. In some instances, literally piles. It was surprising to me, as the forest looked healthy, and several trees still towered above. I could only wonder if this was once a logging area.
Soon I reached Lupine Lake which was a little anticlimactic. It sat tucked within the evergreens with limited shore access, though the ducks had no problem enjoying the green waters.
Aside from it being very buggy, there was nothing wrong with Lupine Lake, I just like it better when granite cliffs protect the shores!
The Return to the Trailhead
It wasn’t until I was halfway back to VANgo when I ran into a couple who peppered me with questions.
Guy: “Is that your van down there?”
Girl: “Do you know how far Star Meadows is? We thought we might make a scenic loop back to Whitefish.”
Guy: “Did you come on Hwy 2?”
Me: I hesitantly nodded, “Yes” because I don’t pay too close attention to road numbers.
Guy: “How far are we from the lake?”
I wondered to myself if they noticed my Texas Plates, because I felt like they were more familiar with the area than I was. I didn’t even know you could loop around through Star Meadow and reach Whitefish. For that matter, I still don’t know!
The Cyclist and Sylvia Lake
After a nice chat with the only two people I saw on the trail all day, I finished the hike and ran into a cyclist at the trailhead. The tall, thin gentleman dressed in all black, asked “How was your hike?”
Out of breath from just climbing the steep grade, I replied, “Great, but hot!” while wondering how in the world he could be wearing all black.
All I could think of was a guy I met in Washington on a mountain pass begging me for salt because it was so hot, and he had run out of water. I sent him off with salt and water!
Me: How is your bike ride? How far will you go?
Cyclist: 50-60 miles.
Me: Wow! It’s so hot!
Cyclist: Have you heard of Sylvia Lake? It’s up the road about five miles or so. A little bit higher elevation and you can take a dip.
I thanked him and at least went exploring for a little bit. It was cooler up there, so I parked in the shade and took a nap, since I hadn’t gotten much sleep the previous night.
While the hotel’s A/C was delightful, it’s clientele was like a herd of buffalo! At least we got a reprieve from the heatwave. In fact, based on the vehicles in the hotel parking lot, three of us vanlifers and RVer’s got a break from the heat! ETB