Fishercap Lake is located in Montana’s Glacier National Park, set in a secluded, remote spot of the park’s wilderness. It is almost adjacent to the Swiftcurrent Auto Camp Historic District, and can be found in the Many Glacier Valley of Glacier National Park, accessible via the various hiking trails in the area.
The lake is small by Montana standards and it is surrounded by some impressive, jagged-looking mountains which are reflected in the clear surface waters.
The lake was named for George Bird Grinnell, who was apparently given the name Fishercap by the Blackfeet Indians.
Fishercap Lake is one of those places you need to find on foot, which is why so many visitors report sightings of the various wildlife that inhabit the area, particularly moose.
The lake is part of a chain that can be accessed easily via the surrounding trails leading into and around the vicinity.
It is close to both Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, and the trails are mostly along flat and scenic terrain.
It is the wildlife and the other views that really make this an attractive location, and although it is quite secluded, the lake is well within the region of tourism in Glacier National Park. The water of the glacial lake is clear and quite shallow, and various streams provide the inflowing and outflowing reserves of water.
Mount Wilbur is just to the west of Fishercap Lake, and the trails that lead to the lake are basically flat. To reach the trailhead of the Swiftcurrent Pass Hiking Trail, which takes you down to the lake, just follow the Many Glacier Road until it ends.
The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot where there is a lodge and restaurant. To get to the St. Mary Entrance, head north on US-89 for about 8 miles to Babb, then take a left onto Route 3 which is the Many Glacier Road.
After another 12 miles, you’ll come to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn at the very end of the road. The trail starts from here.
Fishercap Lake Stats
- 12-acre lake
- Multiple national park campgrounds, nearest 1 mile from the lake
- Open year-round, weather and access permitting
Things to do at Fishercap Lake
Fishercap Lake is one of those lakes in Glacier National Park that is surrounded by fantastic scenery yet unfortunately is not likely to yield any of the best fishing you are likely to find.
As the lake is quite shallow it is also somewhat on the silty side—not exactly an ideal mix, and certainly not if you are looking for large fish. This lake isn’t really going to appeal much to the angler looking for a large catch either.
Generally, anyone looking to get the best of any potential decent fishing in this lake is going to have to pull on a pair of waders and patiently stalk the small brook trout that often come into the region of the water’s edge.
The shores around a lot of the lake tend to be a little boggy, but there is also the possibility of catching a few other species near the streams flowing into and out of the lake.
There is actually a sizable population of small brook trout populating the water, so it is unlikely that you’ll go home empty-handed from these shores.
The smaller fish don’t usually prove too difficult to catch, and the mornings and evenings are reportedly the best times to do so.
Wildlife is in no short supply around the vicinity of Fishercap Lake, largely due to its remote location. It’s common for black bears and grizzly bears to be wandering the area looking for berries and doing a spot of fishing. Cats like Canada lynx, cougars, and wolverines also permeate the region but are a lot less likely to be seen.
Wildflowers and other flora are another reason to check out this region, and anyone making the trip to the lake has every chance of seeing both wildlife and wildflowers during the summer seasons.
The lake seems to be a favorite feeding spot for the relatively ample numbers of moose that frequent the area, and many people who visit Fishercap report moose sightings.
Bear in mind though that keeping a decent distance from these large animals is always wise, as they can be dangerous if confronted.
There is no campground in the immediate vicinity of the lake and no camping is allowed on the shoreline. Of course, this lake is in the midst of the 1 million acres of Glacier National Forest though, so camping opportunities abound.
The Many Glacier Campground area near Browning is located just one mile away from Fishercap Lake’s shores, making it easy for anyone staying there to take a short hike up to the lake with a packed lunch or a fishing rod for the day.
This campground has access to water, picnic tables, and flush toilets, and the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn is within walking distance of the sites. During the summer this campground fills up quickly though, so be prepared to get there very early if you plan on finding a site.
Hiking Trails at Fishercap Lake
Fishercap Lake Trail
The main lake trail is a short, flat, and easy-going hike suitable for any level. This is the Swiftcurrent area of Glacier National Park, which means an abundance of wildlife, including bears.
So it is advisable to carry bear spray for hiking in this area, even though the route is short at a 6-mile round trip in its entirety.
If you do want to stand a chance of seeing wildlife it is more likely in either the early morning or evening, when you may catch sight of a moose or a black bear.
The hike starts out at the end of the parking lot and can be extended to Red Rock Falls, which is a beautiful waterfall that is the main feature of another trail of the same name a little more on the challenging side than this one. The Fishercap Lake Trail is pretty well-shaded, which adds to its popularity.
It winds its way through the shade of the trees before the lake comes into view on your left. Where the trail forks, the right-hand option leads to Red Rock Falls, and the left takes you down to the shore of the lake.
The path then takes you right around the edge of Fisher Cap Lake to the far end, with the best option back being to turn around the way you came unless you fancy the additional mileage and challenge of Red Rock Falls.
Red Rock Falls
So if you do take the Red Rock Falls Trail you’ll find it to be another quite flat and scenic route in Glacier National Park. The hike itself is on the easy side, but it is a moderate distance over 3.5 miles, 4 including Fishercap Lake.
The trail kicks off from the Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead at the end of the parking area of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Red Rock Falls is a two-for-one hike if you can cover the 4 miles to the falls and back.
You do this by taking the fork for Fishercap Lake, and this trail again is also mostly shaded with trees and scrub brush, and the wildlife is also obvious.
The trail goes by Red Rock Lake before you reach Red Rock Falls, and you will catch sight of the waterfall from across the lake.
There are actually a handful of trails down to Red Rock Lake, and whichever way you choose to get there the trail then takes you around the lake to the waterfall.
When you get to the falls there is a slight change in elevation with a slight incline that takes you to the waterfall which has two different sections.
Bullhead Lake Trail
Bullhead Lake Trail is close to 7 miles long and is a moderate, heavily trafficked out-and-back trail. The trail has a few opportunities for other activities, including checking out waterfalls and wildlife.
Best used from April until October, the trail is very narrow in some sections where there is lots of brush, but you will get some excellent lake and mountain views.
To access this hike, head west on Many Glacier Road to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and from the car park look for the Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead. The hike up the Swiftcurrent Creek drainage that leads to Bullhead Lake is ideal if you want to add some distance to the hike.
After about a quarter of a mile, the trail passes by Fishercap Lake, and you can continue on to Redrock Lake with its great vistas and the falls. It then heads on to Bullhead Lake, where the trail seems to thin out into open meadows with views.
There is a great viewpoint overlooking the largest body of Bullhead Lake at about 3.5 miles, and this is a decent spot for a break before heading back along the same route.
There is also the possibility of a bear sighting or two in the forested areas. In fact, this hike has plenty of opportunities to catch sight of wildlife, especially moose, along the chain of lakes connected by creeks that fall under the shadow of some towering peaks.
This trail does get quite busy in the summer, so an early start is recommended, and this will also increase the possibility of seeing any wildlife.
Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail starts out in the Many Glacier Area, and it is quite an easy route that first leads up to Bullhead Lake, with a slight elevation gain. This trail passes both Fishercap Lake and Red Rock Lake, winding up at Bullhead Lake.
Beyond Bullhead Lake, the trail begins a 3-mile stretch of climbing up to Swiftcurrent Pass, with elevation gains of about 2000 vertical feet along the way.
From the top of Swiftcurrent Pass, the trail leads down 9 miles to the Granite Park Chalet on the Highline Trail.
This is an outstanding hiking trail that includes superb views, and for the most part, is an easy hike.