Loon Lake, Montana

Northwest Montana may be one of the most beautiful parts of the entire state. Mountains, rivers, and lakes in this area add even more to the intrinsic beauty.

Loon Lake is approximately 20 miles northwest of Libby in the Kootenai National Forest. Nestled among mountains and trails, this lake is the perfect base camp to fish and hike from and marks a great spot to camp for visitors who want to get away from other people and into the great outdoors.

17 Mile rd. brings campers right to the water of this remote lake, which stands in the shadow of Turner Mountain. Loon Lake sits in a wooded clearing and is perfect for any kind of fishing and small watercraft to enjoy a warm summer day or to go in the height of winter for some ice fishing.

Remote and secluded, Loon Lake is the perfect place for visitors to enjoy the water without the crowds of bigger lakes.

This lake sits next to the small towns of Libby and Troy, each with enjoyable attractions that can turn a trip to the lake into more than just camping, with historical museums and one-of-a-kind natural wonder.   

loon lake, montana

Loon Lake Stats

  • 5 Acres
  • Year-Round access (road dependant)
  • Four campsites

Loon Lake Recreational Activities

As a place to get away and see the beauty of Northwest Montana, It’s hard to miss Loon Lake.

While the lake itself is small, it is surrounded by everything from hiking and skiing to ice fishing and kayaking, making Loon Lake the Perfect place to visit no matter the season.

Camping at Loon Lake

Loon Lake Campground is on the southeast side of the water and is the best place to stay.

The small number of campsites guarantees that the crowds won’t get overwhelming. Montana is a rural state, and many people visiting and living there don’t want to be surrounded by others and instead value the ability to experience nature by themselves.

Loon Lake Campground features two tent pads for a level sleeping space and two campsites that can accommodate an RV up to 20 ft. Each site is equipped with a fire ring and table and a vault toilet shared by the whole campground.

There is no garbage service, so campers are required to pack everything out with them and bring it home or to garbage facilities in a neighboring town.

Boat access is available from camp and makes it easy to take off from the site with ease. There is no fee to camp at this site and a limit of 14 days.

Pets are welcome but it is advised to keep dogs on leash. This site does not allow fireworks and depending on the fire danger campfires are also restricted.

Boating at Loon Lake

boating at loon lake

Due to the small size of this body of water and its long, thin geography, Loon Lake has a no-wake policy, but that doesn’t mean boating is off the table.

In fact, one of the major draws to this lake is that it is an oasis away from loud motors for boaters who prefer self-powered recreation.

Kayaks, standup Paddleboards, and rowboats are perfectly suited for Loon Lake and a peaceful day exploring the shore and listening for birds and other wildlife is one of the things that makes this lake great. The small parking and camping areas ensure that most visitors will have the lake to themselves.

The length of the lake allows plenty of shoreline to boat around and the location in the Kootenai National Forest makes it possible to see all kinds of wildlife from the water including bears and moose. 

Fishing at Loon Lake

For anglers looking for the perfect fish, Loon Lake allows for fishing year-round. Since Montana has long winters, the importance of being able to fish even in the coldest part of the year has led to the popularity of ice fishing.

Loon Lake is accessible all year long and has several kinds of trout, including cutthroat and 7-15 inch brook trout. As much of the lake is covered in vegetation it is recommended to beware of snags to prevent loss of tackle.

Proper ice fishing safety is highly recommended due to the remote nature of the area and limited access to medical facilities.

Skiing near Loon Lake

Loon Lake is as great in summer as it is in the winter, and for those looking for activity in the winter months, the Turner Mountain Ski area won’t disappoint.

This small ski area allows access to great snow and is only a few miles from Loon Lake. With a summit elevation of 5,952 ft and 22 named runs, this ski hill is surrounded by beautiful mountain views and all levels on runs, so it can accommodate any level of skier.

A warm lodge with a fully functional snack bar provides a place to warm up and grab lunch between runs.

Turner Mountain only has one lift with two areas to get off, but the lack of lift line and availability of rental equipment makes this ski hill rare among its overpriced and crowded peers.

Heritage Museum

For a step away from the outdoors, the town of Libby makes for a great spot on the way to Lake Loon with some unmissable attractions.

The Heritage Museum allows visitors to step into the past and learn more about the region and the people who live in it.

Entirely volunteer-run, this museum has exhibits on the settlement of the area, logging, and mining housed in a unique twelve-sided log structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

One of the most special exhibits is the Shay Steam Locomotive. This train is believed to be one of the last working locomotives in Montana from the early 1900s.

When it served the area through the Libby Lumber Co. Lovingly restored, this train allows visitors to see the technology of the past and talk to passionate volunteers about the importance of preserving local history.

While a museum isn’t often associated with a weekend camping on Loon Lake, the historical significance and proximity to the lake make this an unmissable stop and the perfect activity to accompany a lunch in Libby.

Trail Routes

trail routes

Kootenai National Forest boasts phenomenal hiking in a secluded area perfect for those wishing to have a unique experience away from the crowds.

Kootenai Falls and Swinging Bridge Trail

This short out and back trail is 1.6 miles and is considered an easy route south of Loon Lake on the Kootenai River.

The Kootenai Falls Trail provides beautiful views of the river and falls and has a mild incline of 170 ft, much of it stair. Dogs are permitted off-leash, and the trail is best June-through September.

Cameras are highly recommended on this trail to capture the falls and bridge. This trail is between Libby and Troy, perfectly placed on the way to Loon Lake for a short hike before a night of camping.

Turner Mountain Trail

Beloved for more than just skiing, Turner Mountain is also a fantastic destination to hike or mountain bike in the summer months. Turner Mountain Trail off Pipe Creek rd has a steep incline through the 2.7 mi trail.

Primary a mountain bike trail, the path is single track, and it is crucial to keep an eye out for bikes on their way down as they can reach high speeds.

Another spot with beautiful scenery and endless trees, this trail is perfect for the ambitious hiker or biker looking for a remote challenge.

Related Articles