What if you could visit the geological epicenter of the end of the last Ice Age? You can, in Central Montana! Lost Lake is a hidden gem that begs to be discovered. Nestled between Great falls and Fort Benton in the Highwood mountains, Lost Lake has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. The views alone are worth the trip, but while you’re here, enjoy a day hike in this remote pocket of Montana.
One of the most spectacular parts of Lost Lake are the Dry Falls, a short 1/4-mile walk overlooking the water 250 feet below. At one time, these Dry Falls were wet with the flood-waters of the last ice age pouring over the cliffs into the lake below. Known as “Montana’s Niagra,” these ancient waterfalls would have been roughly double the size of Niagra Falls’ largest cataract. It is a dizzying, otherworldly spectacle. Looking down, you’ll be amazed at the long fiord-like body of deep-green water. Verdant carpets of vegetation comprise the lower portions of the cliffs, creating the impression of a prehistoric rain forest or other-worldly terrain.
Lost Lake is the perfect location for those wanting to enjoy a secluded day hike off the beaten path. Surrounded by nature’s rugged beauty, heavily forested with ample water, and with an abundance of wildlife (Moose, Black Bear, Elk, Deer, Mountain Lion, Wolves, Wild Turkeys), Lost Lake is a photographer’s paradise.
To get there | From Great Falls, take 87 North. At Montana 228, turn left past Highwood. Take a right on Shonkin Road West, then a left on Lost Lake Road. You will pass a large alkali lake on your left and soon after you will see a small pull-off on the right for Lost Lake. The rest of the way is up to you; if you only want to hike to Dry Falls, or experience the serene majesty of the Highwood Mountains, be sure you’re prepared with water, snacks, proper hiking gear, and sunscreen!
An hour form Lost Lake into the Little Belts lies Memorial Falls, an excellent one hour round-trip hike with an easy walk to two scenic falls off Highway 89. The non-motorized trail winds along the creek and is perfect for sightseeing and photography.
Perfect for the whole family on a spring or summer day, few things feel as good as escaping to the Little Belt Mountains and Memorial Falls. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, continue to another waterfall above the first. You can find Memorial Falls southeast of Neihart. The trailhead and parking lot is on the east side of US Highway 2.