Lava Lake (Cascade Creek)

#1 of 277 trails in Gallatin National Forest

Join the largest community of outdoor enthusiasts.

Get Started

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

The Lava Lake (Cascade Creek) trail is a 6 mile, moderately rated, out and back trail that climbs 1600 ft to a beautiful lake setting that is surrounded by the Spanish Peaks. Located 30 min south of Bozeman, MT, the trail is primarily used for hiking and is easily accessible from May until Oct.

Share your experience to help other people learn more about this trail:

Write ReviewUpload PhotosUpload Tracks

Becky J. (43)

This is an amazing hike! You have to do it, but be prepared you will be hiking straight up and quite a few switchbacks as you get closer to the lake. Well well well worth it! It would be nice if they were markers letting hikers know how much further they have to go to get to the lake

KEITH KREIDER (36)

1 Completed1 Reviews

This was my first hike (9/20/2014) after moving to Bozeman. I had a major user error and tried to use lightweight, but steel-toed Keens to hike this despite usually hiking trails like this with FiveFingers. Heel rip!! Don't believe the "it's really rocky" posts. The trail itself is pretty mid-weight. It is up about 97% of the way which makes a normal hike a bit longer heading in as opposed to heading out. Nothing is super steep, but there are some switchbacks closer to the lake and the trail does cross a few creeks/brooks which might pose more a Spring-time challenge. The reward is the top when you get to the lake. If you are like me this is not where you stop. When you see the peaks and the crumble you scurry and boulder hop up. If it is a weekend I'd suggest either continuing up for a goats-eye view or heading to a far side of the water since there may be children or beer drinking kids and voices carry hard here. I have not checked in about whether fishing is legal here but at 4pm I did see a few peaks and swirls. It's calm and dry flies would likely do the trick. If the lot is full you can park at the turnout across the river just be VERY careful crossing the bridge back to the Lake Trailhead turnoff it is very narrow.

Tell Kuehn (209)

7 Completed3 Reviews

Is a fairly straight forward hike on a well traveled trail. It is fairly rocky the entire way. Awesome lake though.

Sherry H. (200)

Absolutely Beautiful!

Hugo Portu (46)

1 Completed2 Reviews

Some interesting data for you. Lake is N 45 22.793 W 111 14.699 Elevation 7,150 feet Accuracy + - 13 feet Trail starts at

Hugo Portu (46)

1 Completed2 Reviews

Some interesting data for you. Lake is N 45 22.793 W 111 14.699 Elevation 7,150 feet Accuracy + - 13 feet Trail starts at

Dalton Smith (210)

5 Completed5 Reviews

Great little day hike or overnighter. This trail is fairly populated from the bozeman crowd. Also as of summer 2014 the lake is lifeless when it comes to fish. Not a bad hike to do with family. Good views.

Holly Abel (71)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Worth the climb! This hike is challenging with the intense elevation gain that never lets up (gets your heart rate pumpin') and the trail is very rocky (watch your step!), but the lake at the top is simply stunning and such a marvelous reward. We were glad to have our walking poles to propel up the steep areas, and steady ourselves on the descent. I would highly recommend bringing a pair. The creeks are running high and fast this year. The trail follows along the creek most of the time, and often we had to shout to hear each other over the roar. It was sure nice to see so much moisture this year in Montana. The last time we visited this region it was in a severe drought. The trail had a lot of mud during the top half mile, but it may have dried out by now. Every time we visit Montana the Lava Lake hike is at the top of our "to-do" list. Tip: Pack in a lunch to eat at the top,. Be sure to pack out all trash and "leave no trace". Note: Campfires are not allowed anywhere near this lake. But, despite the ban clearly posted we were very disappointed to see several makeshift firepits around the Lake. I hope all of us can help preserve this beautiful place!

Whitney Hinshaw (115)

4 Completed2 Reviews

On the rocky side, but a nice steady climb and a beautiful destination.

Travis Walter (231)

9 Completed5 Reviews

This was a great hike. I thought it would be a little more difficult, but it was still technical all the same. I went in early may and the lake was still froze over, and the trail still had decent snow cover. I post-holed a little, but not too bad. I will definitely go back in the summer, and probably bring the tent and fishing pole. Beautiful area, probably would be five stars in summer.

Support