Cabinet Range Hikes, Trail Description

Cedar Lakes Trail

7 Mar , 2015   Gallery

Trail 141, 2888’
Summit Elevations: Dome Peak 7,560’,
Scenery Mountain 6,875’
Grambauer Mountain 7,377’

The trailhead starts just west of Libby, Montana on Cedar Creek Road 402 and heads south for three miles to a well marked trailhead. We found this is shady early in the season and snow lingers. The trail is easy to follow, even in the snow as you ascend alongside Cedar Creek which spills from the lower lake at about 5,300’. The upper lake is another 500’ of vertical. If you plan to climb Dome Mountain, you take a trail that is between the lower and upper lakes and begin ascending to a high ridge that connects from the north. The higher you ascend, the better the views. The going is long and arduous and makes for a long day.

We left the trailhead at 8:15 am and didn’t return to the car until eight hours later, covering just more than 13 miles, much of this in snowshoes. In the summer, this is a shaded hike much of the way as the trail meanders through cedar forests and skirts the west hillside that was burned by the 1994 Scenery Mountain fire. We found both lakes frozen. We continued on above lower Cedar Lake and began making our way up the southwest slopes until Upper Cedar Lake (5,888’) began making its appearance below. We crested the high ridge (more like a summit) directly to the west of the big lake (7,000’ +). In the snow, the descent was quick with plenty of glissading. We picked our was back down and north along the ridge that’s a ghostly forest of burned trees and eventually dropped back down to the forest and directly on the trail.

To reach Dome Mountain from the trailhead expect a long day, even in the summer. We estimate about 16 miles roundtrip with 4,672’ of elevation gain to reach the summit. It is well worth the effort as this part of Cabinet Mountain Wilderness has views in every direction and plenty of lakes. There is plenty of water along the trail until you are above the upper lake so in the summer, plan accordingly.

Photo #1
Jeff Beeman at Lower Cedar Lake
Photo #2
Dome Mountain and Upper Cedar Lake from the high ridge
Photo #3
The connecting ridge to Dome Mountain from the north
Photo #4
Hiking up above Lower Cedar Lake to catch the ridge


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