Walton Lakes Hike
Somehow the Walton Lakes Hike has remained relatively undiscovered. A hidden gem in the Clearwater National Forest, this beautiful trail plunges through mixed woodlands and lush vegetation into the granite basin adorned with crystalline lakes. This adventure is at the top of our ranks, and once you experience it for yourself, you will understand why.
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Route Description for Walton Lakes Hike
Those seeking scenery and seclusion will be delighted by the Walton Lakes Hike. This incredible alpine adventure explores a variety of settings—showcasing the best of what the Clearwater Mountains have to offer. While the trek down into the basin is relatively easy-going, the challenge is the climb back up to the trailhead. Bring plenty of water and snacks to stay energized. Additionally, it is important to wear SPF and sun protection to avoid overexposure, as much of the path is unshaded. Lastly, the route is overgrown, and there are rocks and roots obstructing sections of the trail, so wear a sturdy pair of footwear to mitigate the chances of a rolled ankle.
Indulge in the beauty of the Bitterroot Mountains as you wander the Walton Lakes Hike. Nestled amongst the granite ridges anchored by Grave Peak, the sheltered basin boasts an unrivaled scene. Bring your camera as the landscape is quite photogenic. While the destination is the piece de resistance, the walk down through swathes of lush ferns, dense woodlands carpeted by wildflowers, and meadows often occupied with wildlife; there is really no shortage of beauty and diversity. Don’t forget your swimsuit and towel so you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the inviting crystal-clear waters. If this trek isn’t already on your hiking bucket list—this is your sign to add it!
Even the trailhead is gorgeous, providing panoramic views of the Bitterroots Mountains commanding the landscape. Marvel at the beauty of the mountainous landscape, then begin your hike along the Walton Lakes Trail. Setting out from the trailhead, you will be guided northeast into the open tree canopy. Mind your footing on the uneven terrain, and shortly after your departure, you will reach a switchback. Now meandering southwest, the trail will wind through more exposed sections of forest that boast distant views of the lakes below. After some hiking, you will be led down some narrow switchbacks into a swathe of lush vegetation—abundant with ferns and huckleberry bushes.
Traveling through a meadow, you will soon reach the first lake. Take a break and sun along one of the outcrops that adorn the shoreline of the shimmering lake. Take in the charm of the scene from the soaring granite ridges complements by evergreens. From here, venture southward along the lakeshore through the luxuriant meadows before beginning a small climb up to the second Walton Lake. Ascending through the woodlands, you will eventually reach a rock garden on the western shoreline of the other lake. Here you will be granted a more impressive view of Grave Peak looming in the southwest and its granite ridges that stretch above the basin. Revel in the beautiful setting and take a rejuvenating swim. If you are not camping along the lakeshore, then head back up the path the way you came.
Located in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Grave Peak and its craggy granite ridges command the Bitterroot Mountains and are clearly visible from the Walton Lakes. Standing at an elevation of 8,282 ft, the glacially carved pyramid-shaped mountain and its slopes support 29 lakes and larger ponds, including the Walton Lakes.
Insider Hints for Walton Lakes Hike
- Bring a swimsuit and towel and take a dip in the rejuvenating alpine waters
- Practice Leave No Trace principles
- Reserve some energy for the climb back up
- Mind your footing on the rocks and roots that obstruct the path
- Bug repellent is a must!
- Bring your camera, the scenery is picture-perfect
- Much of the path is unshaded, so wear SPF
Getting to the Walton Lakes Hike Trailhead
The Walton Lakes Trailhead is found off Forest Road 362.
Walton Lakes Hike Elevation Graph
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Walton Lakes Hike Reviews
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