A fun little cross-country trek to a little known Rattlesnake lake. A nice expedition for beginners to practice their route-finding skills using a map and compass (or GPS).
Bull Lake is about 2 miles west and a little north of the West Fork Gold Creek trailhead. There is no established trail to the lake, so you need to go cross-country. This is pretty easy with the Wapiti Lake Quad topo map and a compass, or with a good GPS unit. You start by walking up the road a ways then head left into the forest where it looks good to you. The trick is to stay on a contour around the ridges that is neither too high nor too low on the slope. If you pay attention to the changing terrain, your elevation, and your compass, you will have no problem.
Bull Lake is a nice little lake, fairly heavily wooded, but there are places to get a backcast, and there are fish, though I haven’t figured out how to catch one.
Pay attention to your elevation and direction on the way out or it is easy to end up well below the trailhead.
From Highway 200, take a left onto Gold Creek Road. Follow the signs to West Fork Gold Creek. It’s about 1 hour 15 minute from Misssoula.