On a recent episode of our podcast, We’re No Dam Experts, we had a Great Falls Champion on to tell us all about mountain biking the River’s Edge Trail and Sluice Boxes State Park. Between the time we scheduled the episode and Chance Benedict coming in, he went to Our Lake and shared beautiful photos of it on his Instagram. We were eager to talk about the River’s Edge Trail with him, but we were also dying to know more about his adventure at Our Lake, mostly because we wanted to go there ourselves. After making him tell us an itinerary, one of our team members made the hike out to Our Lake that following weekend. If you’ve listened to Episode 44: So You’re Saying There’s a Chance, you probably want to go to Our Lake too.

Getting from Great Falls, Montana to Our Lake

Quick Facts

Our Lake is about a 1.5 hour drive from Great Falls, MT. It’s a scenic drive, and the anticipation of the Rocky Mountain Front builds as you get closer.

The entire loop to hike Our Lake is about 7 miles: A little over 3 miles to hike to Our Lake, about 1 mile around the lake, and then about 3 miles back to the campground/parking area.

The hike up to Our Lake is about a 1,500-foot elevation gain, starting around 5,700 feet and reaching Our Lake at 7,2000 feet. There are plenty of switchbacks on the way up, but the last half mile is the steepest.

You have to hike the trail to Our Lake, you can’t take your horse and there is no camping within 1,000 feet of the shoreline.

This hike is considered moderate because of the overall distance, starting elevation, and elevation gain. However, there are plenty of opportunities to rest during the hike and enjoy the views.

The trail to Our Lake is also moderately trafficked, which can be a good thing. The constant noise of hikers lets the wildlife that you would rather not encounter know you are there.

A Family Hike to Our Lake

Our Content Director made the trip to Our Lake with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. Here is her take on the hike.

While my husband and I are both experienced hikers, having done countless rucks with at least 70lbs in our packs, the hike to Our Lake was a little more challenging than expected. My daughter maybe walked 1,000 steps of the hike; otherwise, I carried her, or she was in my husband’s rucksack. She wanted to take more breaks than we did, and we were not mentally prepared for her increased sass that particular day. It added a level of frustration that did not mix well with the 1,500-foot elevation gain. The other people on the trail that we saw said they started taking their kids on the hike when they were at least six years old so that they would hike it themselves the entire way. I think we just tried to hike the way too quickly.

The last half mile is a little steeper than the rest of the way up. But when you see the waterfall, you know you’re almost there. We didn’t see any wildlife on the way to Our Lake, probably because there were plenty of other hikers on the trail that day. We started around 12:45 PM and reached Our Lake at 2:50 PM. It took us longer than we wanted it to, but we took so many breaks.

When we got to Our Lake, there were other families and couples there enjoying the views and the water. There was plenty of space to spread out and we didn’t feel crowded. We brought a hammock that we used while there and a blanket to sit on. My husband did some fishing along the shoreline and caught two fish. On the back of the lake there were stunning purple wildflowers that were a perfect backdrop to take photos of my daughter. By then, she was in a better mood. It was a little windy while we were there, but it felt good. We dressed in layers, so we were prepared for the temperature change. By the time we had left, there was only one other couple on the lake and we barely even noticed they were there.

Leaving Our Lake, we saw one mountain goat and were able to get fairly close. I tried to get a photo of it with my camera, but I scared it away. We saw a couple just coming to the lake at around 5:00 PM, so people hike later there too. My daughter was pretty tired on the way back and slept in the ruck the entire way, which meant that with going downhill and a toddler that didn’t want to take constant breaks, we were able to cover the 3.13 miles in just over an hour. Since we left after a lot of other hikers, the trails were quieter and we saw a 7-point buck on the trail. He was curious about us, and we were able to get pretty close to him. If you watch the entire video, you’ll see how big he was.

On the podcast episode with Chance, I said I would camp overnight, but honestly, you don’t need to. I want to hike Our Lake again, but I want to spend more time there, and start earlier in the day too. After we got back in the car to head back to Great Falls, we stopped for some sandwiches in Choteau, saw an outdoor museum with dinosaurs, a tipi, and an ice cream shop. We were back home by 8:30 PM and I was able to look at the hundreds of photos that I took while there.

The Hike to Our Lake, The Views, and Wildlife