Mission Falls, Lake County, Montana

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

Named for the St. Ignatius Mission built in the late 1890s, Mission Falls is a stunning waterfall nestled into the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness Area in Lake County, Montana. The waterfall is one of the most well-known waterfalls in Montana, apart from a few in Glacier National Park – and there’s good reason!

The falls meander their way down through the thick mixed evergreen forest, offering beautifully, wild, magnificent sights for those able to brave the unruly trail.

Details About Mission Falls

mission falls

Mission Falls is located along the Lucifer Lake Trail, a longer, meandering trail that leads past several waterfalls and features worth visiting.

  • Location: Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness Area, Lake County, Montana
  • Latitude: 47.33581° or 47° 20′ 9″ north
  • Longitude: -113.94147° or 113° 56′ 29″ west
  • Elevation: 4,941 feet
  • Nearby Features: Elizabeth Falls, Lucifer Lake
  • Things to Know: The falls are located on First Nations lands. Because of this, you will need a conservation license which comes with a fee to hike to the falls and/or beyond. For more info contact The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes before making the trek.

Can I Drive to Mission Falls?

You cannot drive directly to Mission Falls. Instead, you’ll need to park at the trailhead at Mission Dam Road.

Are There Lakes Near Elizabeth Falls?

The nearest lake to Elizabeth Falls is Lucifer Lake, which is fed by Mission Creek. The lake is just over 45 acres and filled with many fish.

Are There Trails to Mission Falls?

Lucifer Lake Trail is the hiking option to get to Mission Falls. The trail, overall, reaches out Lucifer Lake, some 7 miles to the other end. The trailhead is located the Mission Dam Road, where you can park and trek your way in. Beyond Mission Falls, Elizabeth Falls is accessible, as well, though on a rough trail.

The trail is not particularly well-maintained and tends to be rather steep throughout, according to hikers using the All Trails app and blogging about the hike. Some have said the hike is “brutal,” with rock climbing, several stream crossings, and more. This hike isn’t for the faint of heart!

It takes most people over 5 hours to hike the entire trail and remains popular among backpackers, birders, and backcountry campers. The trail does tend to be quiet most of the time, however, thanks to its rugged terrain. Your dogs can join you, too, though they must be leashed.

As you approach Mission Falls, the trail is particularly steep, and you’ll need to take a bushwhack path to the base of the falls.

To Mission Falls (not including the rest of the trail):

  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Difficulty rating: Strenuous
  • Trail type: Out and back
  • Elevation gain: 1,194 feet

Are There Lakes Near Mission Falls?

Mission Falls, Montana is near Lucifer Lake, well, as “close” as a brutal 7-mile hike can be. Additionally, there is Elizabeth Falls further out (closer to the lake).

Visiting Mission Falls in Lake County, Montana

lake county

Mission Falls, Lake County, Montana, is a beautiful waterfall that meanders its way through the wilderness of the backcountry.

The trail leading to the waterfall is unkempt and may require some bushwhacking on your part – but more importantly, it should be noted is an extremely strenuous trail. Mission Falls is an adventure for the physically adept and not the unsure-footed.

Before you head out on the trail, be sure to:

  • Wear appropriate footwear – comfortable, closed toes, with ankle and sole support
  • Wear weather-appropriate attire – likely needing layers to shed as the day passes
  • Bring snacks or meals, depending on how long you plan to hike
  • Bring plenty of water
  • Do not hike alone
  • Bring emergency gear – first aid kit, cellphone or other means of contacting people, matches, etc.
  • Wear sunblock, sunglasses, and other sun protection

Do you know this trail and waterfall? Tell us more in the comments!

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About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a travel blogger and editor for over 5 years, working with some of the biggest brands in industry. She’s taught English as a foreign language in 5 different countries, and her most fulfilling role was as a tour guide around some of Europe’s finest vineyards. She the one behind the social channels here at Discovering Montana, whilst also finding the time to perform an assistant editor role.

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