Georgetown Lake is a large, picturesque, alpine body of water located 18 miles west of Anaconda in Montana off MT Highway 1.
The region of the lake is surrounded by Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, and it is situated in an area almost entirely surrounded by various mountain ranges, namely the snow-capped Pintler Mountains (also known as the Anaconda Range), the Flint Creek Mountains, and the Sapphire Range.
The Lake came into being in 1885, not long after cattle had grazed on the creek bed now submerged beneath the lake’s water. A Philipsburg named Bi-Metallic dammed the headwaters of Flint Creek, which effectively created Georgetown Lake.
Primarily established as a means of power production and to provide valley ranchers with water supplies, these days the reservoir and its surrounding region are most used for outdoor recreation.
There are also a plethora of other recreational activities within the national forest and the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness.
The nearest communities are the historic mining towns of Anaconda, 14 miles to the East, and Philipsburg, 10 miles to the North.
To get to the lake from Missoula, you should head eastward for around 50 miles on I-90, after that taking exit 153 for MT-1 in the direction of Phillipsburg. It is then another 40 miles to the lake, heading south on MT-1 and finally taking a right onto Georgetown Lake Road.
Georgetown Lake Stats
- Approximately 2,088-acres
- Elevation 6,400 feet
- 4 designated campgrounds
- Open year-round
Main Attractions at Georgetown Lake
Whether it’s finding a remote mountain lake, building a campfire for your tent-side dinner, snowboarding, or being engrossed with the antics of a grazing elk herd–Georgetown Lake is a destination with something for everyone throughout the whole year.
It can also be an ideal place for a family getaway based in and around the great outdoors, with so much to explore.
Georgetown Lake is one of the most scenic lakes you’ll ever encounter, and on top of that, you can find campgrounds and picnic areas, boat ramps and a marina, and plenty more to do here, no matter the season.
Things to do at Georgetown Lake
There is tons of recreation on offer at this lake, especially in terms of water sports, fishing, and swimming. On top of that, if you are looking for exploring or camping options a bit further afield, this is the vicinity of a national forest and a wilderness area.
Add to that a highly picturesque lake or two and you’ll realize what an outdoor wonderland this whole region is.
Here are a few snippets of what you can expect.
There are 4 designated campgrounds around the lake operated by the forest service. They are, namely:
- Stewarts Mill Bay (at the southeast corner)
- Piney Campground (on the west side of the lake)
- Philipsburg Bay (to the Northwest)
- Lodgepole Campground (on Highway 1, across from the lake’s northeast corner)
There are plenty of other campgrounds around the region if you look–Lakeview RV Park is just across from the south-eastern wing of the lake offering private RV and tent sites, for instance.
On top of that, there is Cable Mountain Campground above the lake, which you can access via Southern Cross Road then following the signs for the ski hill, turning right at the Cable Mountain Campground sign.
There is camping at Storm Lake and Twin Lakes and you should pretty much find that there are campsites along most major river and stream areas, as there are throughout the nearby National Forest.
Georgetown Lake is a popular water sports destination and is open to both motorized and non-motorized boats alike. Here are 4 boat launches along the shores, as well as the marina.
Water-skiing, motor-boating, wind-surfing, paddling—no limits!
The Lake is home to large trophy-sized rainbow and brook trout as well as large numbers of kokanee salmon. This blue ribbon fishery is also where you’ll find some of the best ice fishing in the state.
Georgetown has previously been rated Montana’s most prolific lake fishing-wise, and it provides access to pretty much year-round angling for trophy rainbow trout, brook trout, and kokanee salmon.
The lake is open from May—usually the third weekend–until the end of March. The lake does undergo a short period of closure in fishing terms from April 1 through June 30.
During this period fishing is closed between two specific points, namely Denton’s Point Marina and the mouth of the North Fork of Flint Creek.
No fishing is permitted between the shore and 100 yards at this time, which is when you are most likely to see rainbow trout spawning along the shore.
Aside from the lake, if you are looking for some variation the entire region contains a myriad of nearby rivers, streams, creeks, and other mountain lakes to explore.
The lake and the surrounding mountains offer some prime elk and deer hunting. Apparently, permits are also available for black bear, wolf, mountain lion, sheep, and antelope, as well as the occasional moose.
Hunting locations tend to be either public or private, and the public areas feature trails leading above Denton’s Point towards Peterson Meadow where there is some excellent hunting.
The Georgetown Lake region is home to one of the best, most affordable family ski hills in Montana.
The Discovery Ski Area covers more than 2,000 acres and features 67 runs, 8 lifts, and a terrain park, with plenty of options for skiers of all levels–including some double blacks.
Beginners can hone their new skills on the gently sloped cruisers, intermediate skiers might catch a few slightly more challenging groomers, and the advanced skiers can take on the steeper runs or bumps and experts, or push past steeps and tight trees.
For small kids with parents wishing to ski, the Kinderski provides half and full daycare along with ski tuition and equipment, as well as a spot of lunch and a game or two.
The resort also happens to have a pub and restaurant offering decent homemade delights and you’ll find the ski passes here at half the price of some of the other main ski resorts.
Turn off Highway 1 onto Southern Cross Road to find the ski area, looking out for the signs heading to the ski hill.
There are a few maintained cross-country ski trails around Georgetown Lake. They come with degrees of difficulty, with access to the easiest one being possible from the very last parking lot to the left of the Ski Mountain.
The trail is a pretty even route and starts out just to the left of the lift. For more information check out this local map which features some of the best cross-country ski trails.
Hiking Trails at Georgetown Lake
No matter which direction you are facing, from here you can find literally thousands of acres of public land with hiking access. There are hundreds of marked trails, lots more unmarked ones, and there is something to suit every level.
The picturesque wildflowers make many of the trails colorful and vivid, and there are multitudes of different bird species around these parts such as woodpeckers, owls, and raptors.
Many areas are not open to motorized vehicles, which allows for even more of the feel of a wild, unspoiled setting.
This region is covered by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and Pintler Ranger District, and the lake has plenty of public land around it.
You’ll find a few short and easy trails near the lake highlighted by the trail markers from the upper lake road. Here’s just a snippet of what’s on offer:
Denton’s Point Trail
This trail covers a route that is moderately challenging and is used for various purposes above Denton’s Point. You can access the trail from Highway 1 by turning onto Georgetown Lake Road on the lake’s eastern end.
The trail continues for many more miles than some walkers would prefer to complete, so it’s best to tailor the distance you hike to your own levels and requirements.
The hiking is generally easy with some steep grades. It’s also possible that you might encounter the odd deer, elk, moose, and even the occasional bear.
Cable Creek Campground Hike
This is a moderate 1.5-mile trail that again can be accessed from Highway 1, turning onto Southern Cross Road and bearing left at the sign for Ski Hill.
There is a sign for Cable Creek Campground and that’s where you turn right to the trailhead. The trail is marked towards the back of the parking lot, and it runs toward the parking lot on the Ski Hill, mostly uphill.
This route doubles as a cross-country ski run during the winter.
Echo Lake Picnic ground
This is an easy trail that you can access by taking Southern Cross Road from Highway 1, going left at the Ski Hill sign, then left at Echo Lake. If you follow the road to the right and the subsequent signs for the campground, you’ll find the hiking trail along the lake’s shore. Another option from here is the cross-country ski trail heading north that winds up at the Ski Hill Parking lot.
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