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Points of Interest

Lolo National Forest Clearwater Lake campfire site at trails end 5//24/17

Clearwater Lake
North of Seeley Lake, Montana
click here for Clearwater Lake location on Google Maps

Clearwater Lake is a beautiful turquoise colored lake located in the Lolo National Forest. It can be reached by car on Forest Road 4370 and then by a 1/4 mile downhill hike on a dirt trail from the trailhead.  The lake can be found on the Seeley Lake Ranger District Map, West Half:
Map Location: U6. (see map photo below)

The lake is fed by a stream entering on its northern shore, sourcing about 2 miles to the east northeast, high up around the (9083 ft.) Ptarmigan Point area.  The lake's outflow, on its northwest shore, is the east fork of the Clearwater River although it is not named on the map.

The lake appears to resemble tropical waters for its color except for the forest and mountain backdrop. I believe this is partially due to a sandy bottom.  We visited on a windy day which drove away the mosquitoes that I suspect would have been lurking the area in calmer weather.

The shortest distance to the lake would be about 6 miles by car beginning on Forest Road 4353 (unmarked by number) off of Hwy 83 north of Rainy Lake. When heading north on 83, look for the turnoff on the right after the short bridge across the Clearwater River. After about 3 miles, there will be a sign to turn left (on FR 4370) to Clearwater Lake for the final 3 miles.  The roads seem to be well maintained, relatively speaking, but do be cautious for opposite traffic around the blind curves!

all photos by Andy Christen

Beautiful view of the Swan range mountains east of Clearwater Lake in the Lolo National Forest at trails end.
Clearwater Lake campfire site at trails end 5//24/17 Click Pictures to ENLARGE Beautiful view of the Swan range mountains east of Clearwater Lake
in the Lolo National Forest at trails end.
Clearwater Lake loop trail (18) begins here at the end of the trail to Clearwater Lake in the Lolo National Forest. Seeley Lake Ranger District Map (West Half) showing the location of Clearwater Lake and trailhead in the center. Looking up at a tall Larch tree at Clearwater Lake (in the Lolo National Forest) trails end. 5/24/17
Clearwater Lake loop trail (18) begins here
at the end of the trail to the lake.
Map showing the location of Clearwater Lake and trailhead in the center.
Click to ENLARGE.
Tall Larch tree at Clearwater Lake trails end. 5/24/17
Clearwater Lake Trailhead 5/24/17 in the Lolo National Forest Approaching Clearwater Lake near trails end 5//24/17 Clearwater Lake 5/24/17
Clearwater Lake Trailhead 5/24/17 Approaching Clearwater Lake near trails end 5//24/17 Clearwater Lake 5/24/17
South end of Clearwater Lake in the Lolo National Forest 5/24/17 Looking across beautiful turquoise Clearwater Lake in the Lolo National Forest 5/24/17 Turquoise color of Clearwater Lake 5/24/17
Clearwater Lake 5/24/17 Looking across beautiful turquoise Clearwater Lake 5/24/17 Turquoise color of Clearwater Lake 5/24/17
Foot bridge at Clearwater Lake's inflowing stream on its northern shore, which originates high on Ptarmigan Point.  The stream is the east fork of the Clearwater River though it is not named on the map.  In the Lolo National Forest north of Seeley Lake Montana.

Clearwater Lake has an inflowing stream (shown left) on its northern shore which originates high on Ptarmigan Point.  Technically this can be called the east fork of the Clearwater River though it is not named on the map.  The picture on the left shows the loop trail (18) bridge crossing at that location.  The forest in this area is generally dense old growth western Larch, Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pine, Fir, Cottonwood and others.

The out-flowing stream (also the east fork of the Clearwater River) is on the lake's northwestern corner.  There, you will find a short log bridge with a handrail shown in the picture on the right.  The distance to this bridge is perhaps 1 mile from the trailhead.

Note: The northern section of Forest Road 4370 to the trailhead is closed until July 1st for all motorized vehicles.

Log foot bridge at Clearwater Lake's out-flowing stream on its northwestern corner.  The stream is the east fork of the Clearwater River.  In the Lolo National Forest north of Seeley Lake Montana.