This blog is part of a six part series of hikes in and around the Whitefish area in coordination with Explore Whitefish. Check out their website at https://explorewhitefish.com to find out more ways to explore the area, things to do, places to stay, and how you can recreate responsibly while visiting.
A gorgeous drive to, what seems, is the middle of nowhere leads to a 5-mile hike complete with a small waterfall in a cool canyon, fantastic golden larches, and the quaint Lupine Lake tucked amongst some wooded ridges.
Best to Google “Lupine Lake Trailhead” than for me to try and give you directions because this trailhead is way in the middle of the Flathead National Forest. The drive, whether coming up from Marion or from Whitefish via the beautiful Star Meadow Road, you’re in for a lovely drive (although expect gravel roads along the way.)
We came up through Marion and found the trailhead surrounded by golden larch trees where White-winged Crossbills flitted from one to the next. After the rest of the crew showed up, we dropped down into the cool canyon, literally. The temperature felt like it dropped 20 degrees as we entered the dark forest.
A precipitous overlook gave us glimpses of a waterfall where Griffin Creek tumbled down into the darkness. Now a trickle, it must roar in the spring. Off in the distance, we could see one of the wooded ridges hemming in the lake.
That view disappeared as we dropped down all the way to the bottom of the canyon and crossed over the creek. After a bit of wandering through the wet, spruce forest, we began to climb up on a drier bench where dried grasses opened to almost-meadows and huge larch trees stretched up into the autumn sky.
It didn’t take long on some easy walking to make it to the outlet of the lake. Logs choked the outlet and made for precarious treading for a photo op to the head of the lake, but wasn’t necessary for continuing on.
We worked our way along the lake, eventually dropping down to a couple of large rocks that provided perfect perches for lunch. We enjoyed the calm lake, the golden larches peppered throughout the hillsides, and the warm sun on our face on a crisp October day before heading back.
On the way home, we decided to drive through Star Meadow to Whitefish. We missed the moose that others were lucky enough to spot, but the scenery was reward in and of itself.