Horseshoe Lake, Montana

Located in Lincoln county, Horseshoe Lake is in a chain of lakes in Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park and is the perfect location for outdoor activity and beautiful scenery.

The State park allows shore access to 18 lakes in the chain over 20 miles, 91 campsites in the park, endless water to explore, and so many different ways to enjoy it. A day on Horseshoe Lake is the perfect way to get out.

Located halfway between Libby and Kalispell on US Highway 2, this crystal clear lake is surrounded by beautiful forests and easily accessible for visitors without off-road vehicles.

The area has opportunities for camping, cabins, and bed and breakfast, making it an excellent choice for visitors who want to stay at the lake but aren’t fond of camping.

Open year-round, there are endless ways to enjoy Horseshoe lake. Whether for a quick day trip or a week-long adventure, there are countless outdoor activities, surrounding wilderness,  and ways to explore this magnificent part of Montana.  

horseshoe lake

Horseshoe Lake Stats

  • 6 Acres
  • 11 Campsites
  • Open Year-round (the road is not maintained in the winter months

Camping at Horseshoe LaEleven

11 primitive campsites ring the shores of Horseshoe lake and allow access to the wonderful fishing and boating that this area offers.

The sites are first-come-first-serve and have a fee of $12.00. There is no official campground surrounding the lake, and the sites are part of the Greater Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park.

Because of this, there is limited access to amenities, although many of the sites have fire rings and vault toilets. Some are accessible to RV, although this is limited due to the condition of the road. All sites are limited to 14 days of camping.

For another place to stay that isn’t on the water but is just a short walk or drive, Moose Ridge Bed & Breakfast and Cabins is a great place to stay in an accessible location.

Right off highway 2, this establishment provides all of the amenities of a hotel in the middle of the wilderness. Cozy log cabins and large windows facing the forest make this the perfect place to unwind after a long day of hiking and fishing in the sun. 

Fishing at Horseshoe Lake

Horseshoe Lake, along with the other lakes in the Thompson Chain of Lakes, is known for its fishing. With access year and popular ice fishing in the winter, this is the perfect place to let some line down.

Quite a few fish species live in this lake, including Large Scale Sucker, Northern Pike Minnow, Pygmy Whitefish, Redside Shiner, Yellow Perch, and Small Mouth Bass, so it is recommended to bring a tackle box or plan for the specific fish.

This lake is stocked so that the fishing will remain good, but be sure to check with local officials about fishing regulations.

Long, wavy shorelines provide the perfect place to fish from shore in privacy, and boat access allows an angler to take to the water in search of the ideal fish.

Ice Fishing Around Horseshoe Lake

With many species of fish to catch, it is impossible to limit all of the fishing fun to just one season, and once the water is no longer accessible, it’s time to drill a hole.

Horseshoe Lake provides excellent ice fishing opportunities and is only limited by the roads in the deep winter. A few lakes over this area host the annual Thompson Chain of Lakes Ice Fishing Derby, which raises money for the Fisher River Volunteer Fire Department.

This event brings in hundreds of anglers to compete and helps support a vital community resource. 

Motorboat Use at Horseshoe Lake

motorboat use at horseshoe lake

Surrounded by lakes that don’t allow wake, Horseshoe Lake is a rare find and allows motorboats and jetskiing.

A boat ramp on the north shore with parking provides access to the water, where boaters can explore more than 130 acres of water and two wooded islands.

The beautiful shoreline and clear water make this lake especially inviting. Fishing from motorboats is allowed, and with so many secluded areas to explore in this large lake, some of the best spots are more accessible by boat.  

The southeast portion of the lake is seasonally closed in the spring months to boaters for maintenance and stocking, be sure to check the regulations before traveling to the lake.  

Trail Routes

All the lakes are surrounded by dirt and gravel roads that make the perfect place for casual strolling or a longer, more robust walk depending on the visitor’s path. Other trails are a little further away but well worth the trip.

The closest hikes are in remote wilderness areas, so hikers need to come prepared and be aware of wildlife, including bears. 

Lost Buck Pass Trail to Geiger Lakes

East of Horseshoe Lake and into the Cabinet Wilderness, Lost Buck Pass Trail to Geiger Lakes is a beautiful trail only a short drive away.

Heavily wooded and remote with little traffic, this trail is the perfect way to get away from everyone and enjoy one of the most isolated parts of Montana.

This 6.9 out and back trail is a challenging route that ends at the Grieger lakes, although a hiker looking for more of a challenge can go on to explore more of the trails beyond.

Wildlife can be viewed along the trail making Lost Buck Pass the perfect trial to spot animals, including bears, making it essential for hikers to come aware and prepared.

In the spring and summer, hikers can find huckleberries on the trail and snow by the lakes making this a beautiful place to visit and a fun and rewarding hike. Dogs are allowed but encouraged to remain on a leash.

Great Northern Mountain Trail via Howard Lake

Another challenging hike, East of Horseshoe lake down Highway 2 by Libby, is the Great Mountain Trail via Howard Lake a stunning, densely wooded trail in the backcountry that leads hikers through tall mountains and beautiful terrain.

This trail is 9.6 miles and has a steep elevation gain of 2,936 feet, making it challenging and likely to take more than 5 hours.

Hikers willing to take on this trail will be rewarded with stunning views and a great workout with very little other foot traffic.

Since this is a backcountry trail is important to be prepared and bring plenty of water and bear protection.

Trail 656 to Pack Trail

The most challenging trial on this list, Trail 656 to Pack Trail, is as beautiful as it is long and remote. 15.9 miles out and back with long switchbacks and taking hikers past the Geiger Lakes and far into the mountains.

This trail has an elevation gain of 4,507 ft and is likely an all-day hike taking more than 8 hours. Wild huckleberries surround this trail in the summer months.

Since the trial disappears in some places, it is recommended that hikers bring a GPS or downloadable map to prevent getting lost. There is very little traffic on this trail, so it is important to come prepared and familiarize oneself with the area.

Dogs are welcome as long as they remain leashed. 

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