Leigh Lake Trail #132 Spring-Summer-Fall Easy

Leigh Lake is one of the most incredible lakes anywhere in our region. It is the largest and the highest
lake in the Wilderness. The back wall is 3000 feet of granite, with dozens of waterfalls on it's face during the summer. In late June and early July, the snow-pack above creates 50 or so additional waterfalls. As you hike up the trail the sounds of the cascading Leigh Creek fill your head. Just below the lake you come to a large waterfall and a decision about crossing the creek or climbing the steep face to your right (north). If the creek is crankin', getting across it, is difficult. The trail to the right is steep but only lasts for 100 vertical feet. Once on top of this obstacle, the views of the falls you just left are spectacular, and the roar is wonderful. For the next 5 minutes it is the view of choice. Then the lake appears before you. In the spring the Glacier Lilies dominate the landscape. I mean 10's of thousands everywhere. Once at the lake, look for a trail along the shore on the right (north) side of the lake. It takes you to an avalanche terminus in about 20 minutes. This terminus has melted away enough so you can walk inside it to cool off as well as see a waterfall near the back. When you re-emerge, there is a beach down stream to relax at and enjoy the views, maybe go for a swim. If you are adventurous, take a raft, pump, and paddle with you and raft around the lake under the big wall. From this view you will see many more waterfalls. One fall drops from 1500 feet above you, but you don't get wet because it evaporates before it get to you. As you paddle along, stop paddling and let your raft spinout. It's almost psychedelic. Continue past the big wall paddling counter clock wise around the lake, and you will come to a small beach on the southwest corner. Tie the raft securely and venture up into the amphitheater above the lake. The angle of the rock is about 35 degrees for about 150 vertical feet, then it relaxes to about 25 degrees most the way to the top of the ridge. In the amphitheater there are dozens of species of wildflowers and small cascades and waterfalls everywhere.
To get to the trailhead, drive about 11 miles south of Libby on Hwy 2 to Big Cherry Creek Road #278.
After 3 miles turn right (west) onto Road #867 and continue for 5 miles to Road #4786. The trailhead is 2 miles up this road.

Cool things to see: Incredible waterfalls on the hike in, scenic trail, wildflowers, 3000 foot granite wall, ice terminus, Mountain Goats, dozens of waterfalls off the 3000 foot face, rocks and cliffs.

All photographs are copyrighted by Chic Burge and are not to be copied.

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