Kintla Lake is a beautiful, remote location in the northwest corner of Glacier National Park. It sits just above 4,000 feet, and lies just a few miles from the Canadian border. The Boulder Pass Trail starts here on the western outlet of Kintla Lake.
Backpacking over Boulder Pass to Waterton Lake makes for an epic backpacking trip, but you can get a taste of the trip hiking a portion of the trail as an out-and-back route.
Getting to Kintla Lake
Kintla Lake is about 2-1/2 hours north of Kalispell, Montana. To reach Kintla Lake, we entered Glacier National Park from the West Glacier entrance, and headed north. When you reach Polebridge, the road turns to gravel. We travelled about 16 miles of gravel road to reach the trailhead.
Any vehicle can make it back there, but you’ll have to allow additional time for the slower speeds on gravel roads. Get turn-by-turn directions on Google Maps.
When you reach the trailhead campground, read the signs carefully. Campsite parking is reserved for campers.
Hiking the Trail
This trails begins near the western shore of Kintla Lake, running parallel to the northern shoreline through a forested slope bursting with wildflowers.
There are numerous views through the trees that look across the lake toward Long Knife Peak and Parke Peak. Just beyond the jagged peaks to the northeast lies Canada’s Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park and Waterton Lakes National Park.
The trail is well shaded, with filtered sunlight providing a perfect environment for wildflowers to thrive, including mariposa, wild roses and glacier lilies.
At 3.7 miles we reached the barely perceptible junction with the Kintla Trail, which begins at the North Fork of the Flathead River and climbs over Starvation Ridge to this junction. The tread of the Kintla Trail was very faint, and only evident after carefully spying blazes on trees marking the path.
This was our turnaround point, as I had a plane to catch out of Kalispell. Hiking this trail as an out-and-back gives you flexibility to hike further or shorter distances. This is definitely an area that I will come back and explore further.
Kintla Lake Trail Map & Elevation Profile
Kintla Lake Tips
- Grizzly bears live in this area. Avoid solo travel and carry bear spray.
- There are campsites available at the far eastern end of Kintla Lake, making this a great option for an overnight backpacking or kayaking trip.
- After your hike, be sure to stop at the Polebridge Mercantile for their famous huckleberry bear claws. The “Merc” was built back in 1914, and you can soak in the history strolling through the shop.
Polebridge Weather Forecast
Sunday 09/23 60%
Chance of Rain
Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. High 56F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Monday 09/24 20%
Cloudy. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 57F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Tuesday 09/25 10%
A few clouds early, otherwise mostly sunny. High around 60F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wednesday 09/26 10%
Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 63F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Originally hiked on June 26, 2017 with Jason Fitzpatrick.