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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    Very Hard
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    1,133 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    21.9 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop Trail


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    Table of contents

    Immerse yourself in Montana’s Cabinet Mountains and discover a hidden alpine oasis on the Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop. Sweeping mountain views and several crystalline alpine pools await you after an arduous climb through the preserved wilderness abundant with a diversity of flora and fauna—what are you waiting for? Let’s go.

    Route Description for Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop Trail

    The Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop Trail is a long and involved adventure in the Kootenai National Forest. This scenic hike explores a variety of terrains, offering an unparalleled experience. Reserved for intrepid explorers and experienced hikers, this incredible route demands some off-trail hiking and the man of some technical terrain. Make sure you download the trail GPS before departure for easy wayfinding. Additionally, it is wise to dress in layers as insurance against varying conditions, as the weather at these altitudes can change on a dime. Lastly, there are several creek crossings and steep segments on the path, so we highly encourage the use of trekking poles. Note this route explores bear country so make sure one person in your party carries a can of bear spray.

    Immerse yourself in Montana’s unspoiled wilderness and reconnect with nature on the Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop. While this is a challenging day-hike, the jaw-dropping scenery is well worth the sweat. Uncover a hidden paradise high in the alpine and marvel at the grandeur of the soaring Cabinet Mountains. In addition to the breathtaking mountain views, this epic adventure yields a diversity of flora and fauna. Explore alpine meadows, wetlands, and woodlands of mixed pines, cedars, hemlock larch, huckleberry, and thick shrubbery occupied by moose, elk, deer, bears, squirrels, and an array of bird species. Those seeking a demanding day-hike in the Kootenai National Forest will appreciate the beauty and variety of this journey.

    Embark on your adventure along the Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop from the Flower Creek Trailhead off Flower Lake Road. Setting out from here, you will be guided southwestward into the dense forestlands. The initial segment of the trek is level until it nears Flower Creek—beyond this point, you are in for a relentless climb! After some hiking alongside the meandering creek, the path will enter the Wilderness boundary. Alternating between woodlands and alpine meadows, the route will consistently climb through the mountain-bound canyon. Eventually, you will be confronted with an intersection with the Cabinet Divide North Trail; keep left here. From here, the Flower Creek Trail will ascend the timberline into the mountain basin, diverting south up to the Sky Lakes.

    Revel in the grandeur of the towering cliffs anchored by Sugarloaf Mountain and Treasure Mountain, and marvel at the blue-hued, crystalline alpine pools that adorn the cirque. At this point, you will diverge from the marked trail, using the trail GPS to explore the basin and find the Hanging Valley. Traveling north, you will pass the fourth and final lake on this voyage before descending back into the woodlands, contouring the ridges of the craggy ridges. Ultimately the Hanging Valley will deliver you back to Flower Creek. Here, turn right and retrace your footing along the Flower Creek Trail all the way back to the trailhead, marking the end of your unforgettable expedition.

    Trail Highlights

    Treasure Mountain

    Treasure Mountain is a prominent summit in the Cabinet Mountains that stands at an elevation of 2,345 m. Located to the north of Mount Snowy, this dramatic crest and its craggy ridges flank the Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley.

    Insider Hints for Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop Trail

    • Use the trail GPS, much of this hike is off-trail
    • Wear a sturdy pair of footwear to avoid a rolled ankle on the rocky and rugged terrain
    • Make sure at least one person in your group carries a can of bear spray
    • Dress in layers as insurance against changing conditions
    • Wear long pants to avoid scratches as you progress through overgrowth
    • Consider bringing trekking poles
    • Expect to get your feet wet—this hike demands creek fords

    Getting to the Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop Trail Trailhead

    The Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop departs from the Flower Creek Trailhead off Flower Lake Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground:

      Dispersed Camping

    • When to do:


    • Pets allowed:

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly:


    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:


    Sky Lakes and Hanging Valley Loop Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


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