Wild Bill’s Lake Trail In Montana

Here is everything you need to know about the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Montana
  • Length: 0.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: U.S. Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Wild Bill’s Lake Trail holds a significant place in the history of the region, tracing its roots back to the early 19th century. Named after the legendary frontiersman Wild Bill Hickok, the trail was initially established as a trading route between the settlements of the Mississippi River Valley and the western territories. It served as a vital lifeline for pioneers, fur trappers, and traders seeking to navigate the rugged terrain and reach the untamed lands beyond.

The trail gained prominence during the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s when thousands of fortune seekers embarked on the treacherous journey westward. Wild Bill’s Lake Trail became a crucial link in the network of trails collectively known as the Oregon Trail, providing a shorter and more direct route to the goldfields of California. The trail offered access to abundant water sources, sheltered camping spots, and ample game, making it a preferred choice for many travelers.

Over time, the trail witnessed numerous historical events and encounters. It became a battleground during conflicts between Native American tribes and settlers, as both sought to assert their dominance over the land. The trail also played a role in the expansion of the railroad system, with surveyors and engineers utilizing its path to determine the most feasible routes for laying tracks across the vast expanse of the American West.

Today, the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail stands as a testament to the pioneering spirit and resilience of those who ventured into the unknown. While its significance as a trade and migration route has diminished with the advent of modern transportation, the trail continues to attract hikers, history enthusiasts, and nature lovers who seek to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of the past.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Wild Bill’s Lake Trailhead: This is the main access point for the trail and is located at the trailhead parking lot off Forest Road 123. It provides direct access to the trail.

2. Wild Bill’s Lake Campground: This campground is located near the trailhead and serves as a starting point for hikers. It offers camping facilities and is a popular spot for overnight stays.

3. Wild Bill’s Lake: This beautiful alpine lake is the highlight of the trail and serves as a major access point. Hikers can reach the lake by following the trail from the trailhead.

4. Wild Bill’s Pass: This is a high mountain pass along the trail that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It serves as a major access point for hikers who want to explore the higher elevations.

5. Wild Bill’s Peak: This peak is located near the trail and offers a challenging side trip for experienced hikers. It provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

6. Wild Bill’s Creek: This creek runs parallel to the trail for a portion of the route and serves as a water source for hikers. It can be accessed from various points along the trail.

7. Wild Bill’s Trail Junction: This junction is located along the trail and serves as a major access point for hikers who want to explore other trails in the area. It provides connections to different trail systems.

8. Wild Bill’s Trailhead Parking Lot: This parking lot is located at the end of the trail and serves as an access point for hikers who want to start their journey from this point. It offers parking facilities and is a convenient starting point for day hikes.

Transportation Available

1. Wild Bill’s Shuttle Service – Convenient shuttle service for transportation to and from Wild Bill’s Lake Trail.
2. Lake Trail Taxi – Reliable taxi service offering transportation options to and from Wild Bill’s Lake Trail.
3. Trailblazer Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring Wild Bill’s Lake Trail and its surroundings.
4. Hike & Go – Hiking gear rental service with transportation options to Wild Bill’s Lake Trail.
5. Lakeside Car Rentals – Car rental service providing convenient transportation to Wild Bill’s Lake Trail and other nearby attractions.
6. Adventure Bus Tours – Guided bus tours with transportation to Wild Bill’s Lake Trail and other scenic spots in the area.
7. Wild Bill’s Lake Trail Rides – Horseback riding tours offering transportation to Wild Bill’s Lake Trail and guided trail rides.
8. Lake Trail Express – Shuttle service specializing in transportation to and from Wild Bill’s Lake Trail for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.


The amenities available at Wild Bill’s Lake Trail may vary, but here are some common amenities that you might find:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail. These could include portable toilets or permanent restroom buildings.

2. Parking: There might be designated parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles while using the trail. This could include parking lots or roadside parking spaces.

3. Camping Sites: If camping is allowed at Wild Bill’s Lake Trail, there may be designated camping sites or areas where visitors can set up their tents or park their RVs. These sites might have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: There could be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas might have picnic tables, benches, or shelters for shade.

5. Trailhead Facilities: At the trailhead, there might be additional amenities such as information boards, maps, or interpretive signs to provide visitors with information about the trail and its surroundings.

6. Water Access: If the trail is located near a lake, river, or other bodies of water, there might be access points for swimming, fishing, or boating.

7. Interpretive Signs: Along the trail, there might be interpretive signs or educational displays that provide information about the local flora, fauna, history, or geology.

8. Trail Markers: To help visitors navigate the trail, there might be trail markers or signs indicating the direction, distance, or difficulty level of different sections of the trail.

It’s important to note that the availability of these amenities can vary depending on the specific location and management of Wild Bill’s Lake Trail. It’s recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the most accurate and up-to-date information on the amenities available.

Nearby Services

1. Lakeview Lodge – A cozy lakeside lodging option with stunning views.
2. Trailside Inn – Conveniently located near the trail, offering comfortable accommodations.
3. Mountain Retreat Cabins – Rustic cabins nestled in the mountains, perfect for a peaceful getaway.
4. Wild Bill’s Campground – A camping site with basic amenities, ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
5. Lakeside Diner – A charming restaurant serving delicious meals with a view of the lake.
6. Trailside Cafe – A casual eatery offering quick bites and refreshments for hikers.
7. Wild Bill’s General Store – A one-stop shop for camping supplies, snacks, and other essentials.
8. Lake Trail Medical Center – A nearby medical facility providing emergency services for any unforeseen incidents.

Wild Bill’s Lake Trail Difficulty Notes

The Wild Bill’s Lake Trail is known for its moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail offers a challenging yet rewarding experience, with its steep inclines and rocky terrain. Hikers can expect to encounter some obstacles along the way, such as fallen trees and loose rocks, which require careful navigation. However, the trail also provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the serene Wild Bill’s Lake, making the effort well worth it. Overall, the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail offers a satisfying balance of difficulty and beauty, making it a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a memorable hiking adventure.

Features And Attractions

1. Wild Bill’s Lake: The trail itself offers stunning views of Wild Bill’s Lake, a picturesque mountain lake surrounded by lush greenery and towering peaks.

2. Mount Jefferson: As you hike along the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Mount Jefferson, one of the highest peaks in the area. The mountain’s rugged beauty and snow-capped summit make for a truly awe-inspiring sight.

3. Wildflower Meadows: During the spring and summer months, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflower meadows. The colorful blooms create a stunning contrast against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains.

4. Historical Mining Sites: Along the trail, you’ll come across remnants of old mining operations that were once active in the area. These historical sites offer a glimpse into the region’s rich mining history and provide an interesting insight into the lives of early settlers.

5. Waterfalls: The trail passes by several beautiful waterfalls, cascading down the mountainside. These natural landmarks offer a refreshing break and provide a serene atmosphere as you listen to the soothing sound of rushing water.

6. Wildlife: The Wild Bill’s Lake Trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, mountain goats, and various bird species. Keep your eyes peeled for these majestic creatures as you hike through the wilderness.

7. Alpine Forests: The trail takes you through dense alpine forests, filled with towering pine trees and fragrant wildflowers. The peaceful ambiance of these forests provides a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

8. Scenic Overlooks: Along the trail, there are several designated scenic overlooks that offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. These viewpoints provide the perfect opportunity to pause, take in the beauty of the area, and capture some memorable photographs.

9. Rock Formations: The trail passes by unique rock formations, sculpted by years of natural erosion. These geological wonders add an element of intrigue and fascination to the hiking experience.

10. Crystal Clear Streams: As you hike along the trail, you’ll encounter crystal clear streams and creeks, meandering through the landscape. These pristine water bodies provide a refreshing spot to rest, cool off, or simply enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Please clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
3. Camping and campfires are not permitted along the trail.
4. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be closed during the winter months due to snow or hazardous conditions.
5. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
6. Hunting or fishing is strictly prohibited along the trail.
7. Please stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
8. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and respect the natural environment.
9. Swimming or boating in the lake is not allowed.
10. Respect other trail users and yield to hikers and runners.
11. Do not disturb or harm wildlife or plant life along the trail.
12. Be prepared and bring enough water, snacks, and appropriate clothing for your hike.
13. Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at the trailhead or along the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Wild Bill’s Lake Trail is a picturesque hiking trail located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. With its stunning alpine scenery, crystal-clear lakes, and diverse wildlife, it is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. While the trail is accessible year-round, there are certain times of the year that offer the best experience for visitors.

One of the best times to visit the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail is during the summer months, from June to August. During this time, the weather is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 27 degrees Celsius). The trail is usually snow-free, allowing hikers to fully explore the area without any major obstacles. The summer months also offer longer daylight hours, providing ample time to enjoy the trail and its surroundings.

Another great time to visit is during the fall season, from September to October. As the leaves change colors, the trail transforms into a breathtaking display of vibrant hues. The cooler temperatures make hiking more comfortable, and the crowds tend to thin out compared to the summer months. Fall also brings the opportunity to witness the elk rutting season, where male elk engage in dramatic displays of dominance and courtship.

It is important to note that the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail has seasonal closures during the winter months. From November to May, the trail is often covered in deep snow and can be treacherous for hikers. Additionally, the area is prone to avalanches, making it unsafe for visitors. It is recommended to check with local authorities or park rangers for the latest trail conditions and closures before planning a trip during the winter season.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail are during the summer and fall seasons. These months offer pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, and a chance to witness unique natural phenomena. However, it is crucial to be aware of the trail’s seasonal closures during the winter months due to snow and avalanche risks. By planning your visit accordingly, you can fully enjoy the wonders of this stunning hiking trail.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trailhead for easy access.
2. Paved Pathway: A smooth, paved trail surface suitable for wheelchair users.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Restroom facilities equipped with ADA-compliant features such as grab bars and accessible stalls.
4. Wheelchair Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic spots with accessible tables and seating.
5. Braille and Tactile Signage: Trail signs with raised lettering and Braille for visually impaired individuals.
6. Accessible Trailhead: A designated area with accessible ramps and pathways leading to the trail.
7. Assistance Animals Allowed: Service animals are permitted on the trail to assist individuals with disabilities.
8. Accessible Water Fountains: Water fountains at a suitable height for wheelchair users.
9. Benches and Rest Areas: Rest spots along the trail with benches for individuals who may need to take breaks.
10. Accessible Viewing Areas: Designated areas with accessible viewpoints for enjoying the scenery.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Wild Bill’s Lake Trail is a moderately difficult trail with some steep sections and uneven terrain.
2. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate the trail safely.
3. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.
4. Trail Markings: Pay attention to trail markers and signs to stay on the designated path.
5. Wildlife Encounter: Be aware of the potential for wildlife encounters and maintain a safe distance if you come across any animals.
6. Carry Water: Bring an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated throughout the hike.
7. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
8. First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.
9. Emergency Contact: Inform someone about your hiking plans and estimated return time in case of emergencies.
10. Hiking Buddy: It is recommended to hike with a partner or in a group for added safety.
11. Leave No Trace: Respect the environment by packing out all trash and leaving the trail as you found it.
12. Trail Conditions: Check for any trail closures or warnings before embarking on your hike.
13. Cell Phone Reception: Be aware that cell phone reception may be limited or unavailable in certain areas of the trail.
14. Time Management: Plan your hike according to daylight hours to avoid hiking in the dark.
15. Physical Fitness: Ensure you are in good physical condition and capable of completing the trail before attempting it.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail is considered to be stable and well-maintained. The trail is regularly monitored and managed by local conservation organizations to ensure its preservation and protection. Efforts are made to minimize human impact on the surrounding ecosystem and wildlife habitats.

The trail is located within a designated conservation area, which means that it is subject to specific regulations and guidelines aimed at preserving the natural environment. These regulations include restrictions on camping, hunting, and off-trail activities to prevent disturbance to the flora and fauna. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to follow Leave No Trace principles, such as packing out their trash and staying on designated paths, to minimize their impact on the trail and its surroundings.

Conservation efforts also focus on maintaining the trail’s integrity and preventing erosion. Regular maintenance activities, such as trail clearing, erosion control, and bridge repairs, are carried out to ensure the safety and sustainability of the trail. This helps to protect the surrounding vegetation and prevent soil erosion, which can have detrimental effects on the ecosystem.

Overall, the conservation status of the Wild Bill’s Lake Trail is considered to be in good condition, thanks to the ongoing efforts of conservation organizations and responsible visitors. By adhering to the regulations and guidelines set forth, visitors can help preserve the trail’s natural beauty and ensure its availability for future generations to enjoy.

Leave a Comment