Maddie's Trails | A collection of quality hiking trails in Western Montana.

Maddie's Trails

Edith LakeOne Way 5.1 miles, 1480 feet

This is a nice hike to a pretty lake - but not exceptional for the Pintlers. Still, well worth a summer's day.


Edith Lake is under appreciated but well worth the trip.  At 7900’ it is a little lower than many other Pintler glacial lakes and therefore a little more accessible, though the hike is a bit more difficult than its 1400’ climb over 5 miles suggests.

The trail starts at the popular Middle Fork trailhead.  You can also reach the lake as a side-trip from Trail #111 coming from Glover Basin, Tamarack Lake, and the Carpp Lakes.  The first 3 miles are on Trail 29, the lower portion of the Johnson Lake trail, and typical of Middle Fork trails, is heavily wooded.  From the parking area the trail heads north across a small meadow (lots of strawberries here in July), crosses the Middle Fork on a footbridge, then enters the Wilderness within a quarter mile.  At 1.5 miles there is a nice waterfall on the Falls Fork to your left.  A short, steep path down provides a better view.

At 2.5 miles the trail crosses the Falls Fork on an impressively constructed bridge.  There is a very pretty cascade to your right above the bridge, and we have seen American Dipper here.  This is the most scenic spot in the lower part of the trail.

A few minutes past the bridge the trail makes a sharp turn to the south around a small pocket meadow, then starts climbing more steeply.  The junction with Trail #111 is at 3.25 miles where you turn sharply to the left. You have gained enough elevation to enjoy a nice view from here.  This spot seems to be the northern-most point of the Johnson Lake burn.

A half mile further (3.75 miles) you cross a scree field where you might see a marmot and some raspberry bushes.  Another half mile (4.2 miles) gets you to the unsigned junction to the lake - turn right. This mile stretch between the two junctions crosses a few small streams and offers some scenic views to the south and west. Much of the hike’s climb happens on this stretch.

As noted in Mort Arkava’s book, the maps do not accurately depict this stretch of trail.  First, the distance from the Johnson Lake junction to the next junction is nearly one mile, though the maps make it look about a quarter mile.  Also, the switchbacks come before the second junction, not after, so apparently this trail was rerouted many years ago - I saw no evidence of this other than the discrepancy with the maps.

After the final junction the trail flattens out, crossing a few more scree fields, then turns gently to the east to finally reveal the lake at 5.1 miles.  Edith is a medium size lake in a large basin.  The lake is shallow at this end, possibly explaining why we were run out by mosquitoes years ago mid-day in mid-July.  A good trail runs along the lakeshore clockwise.  There are several nice campsites at this lake.  Tamarack Lake lies the other side of the ridge to the northwest, and you can see the wide, relatively gentle but rocky southeast face of Warren Peak.  The basin is large enough to provide a day’s worth of exploration, making this a nice, fairly easy overnight destination.

Getting There

From Phillipsburg drive 5 miles south on state highway 1.  Turn right onto highway 38.  Drive about 6 miles, then turn left onto Moose Lake Road.  Drive 15 miles up this good gravel road to the trailhead.  You will pass Moose Lake and Project Vote Smart on the way.  The trailhead has plenty of parking, horse facilities, and an outhouse.

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