With the opening of the Canyon Creek road (FS #31). we decided to visit Bearpaw Mtn Lake trail (FS #757). The trail starts at the practical end of Bear Paw Road (FS Road 3170), which is accessed from about mile point 14 on the Canyon Creek road. The Bear Paw Road crosses Canyon Creek on a sturdy bridge and reaches the trailhead in about 2.3 miles. The road is in reasonable shape although a little brushy from the area of the switchbacks to the trailhead. The trail starts at elevation 3800 and the lake is at 4430 feet. The trail is under 1 mile and gains just over 800 feet. The trail begins on logging track in a clearcut logged in 1968. The trail climbs steeply through the woods. There are numerous blowdowns to navigate through and around. Many cut logs suggest that the trail was built and not just a boot path. The lake is set in a cirque surrounded by rock and steep forest. Steep cliffs and wooded slopes separate the lake from the higher Church Lake. There an island on the west side of the lake that is accessed by rock hopping. There are several camps (too close to lake shore for my liking) on the island and around along the north and east ends of the lake. There is green sign high on a dead tree for the Danny Woods Trail. This is likely a reference to Danny Woods, a snowmobiler killed in an avalanche in the area in 2008. We perform minor brushing and woody debris removal to improve the route. Some sections of the trail need serious brushing and chainsaw work through the blowdown sections.
Historical Cut log
Bearpaw Mtn Lake
Danny Woods trail marker
Breaktime along the trail
The Bear Paw Road is shown on the 1966 FS map. The trail from the road to lake first appears on the 1977 and 1988 FS maps but is missing from the 1999 map. The 1988 FS map shows a trail connection between Bearpaw Mtn Lake and Church Lake. We saw no obvious evidence of this trail during our visit. The FS GIS coverage shows a trail from the road along the outlet stream to the lake. We found no evidence of a trail along this route.
Road 3170 was constructed in late 1960s. Blocks of forest along the Bear Paw road were logged between 1968 and 1986. Sometime after 1968, probably early to mid-1970s, the trail was constructed to Bearpaw Mtn Lake. There is no reference to the trail on the current FS website. There is only one entry on the WTA trail reports from 2008 (as of July 4 there are now 3).
1977 FS Bearpaw Mt Lake Trail
1988 FS Bearpaw Mt Lake Trail
Trail June 2019 v2
Interesting naming history, the current Bald Mtn (NW of Lake) appears on the 1922, 1926 and 1931 FS maps. The name changed to Bear Paw Mtn in the 1933 to 1953 editions. The name Bearpaw Mt was reduced to one word and moved to its current location, and Bald Mtn reverted to its original name in the USGS (1954) and 1957 FS maps.
FYI. A photo of the recent road repair on Canyon Creek Road (near milepost 6), which allowed the road to be open this year. There are several other sections of the road that will likely fail without serious repair.
No we didn't. It rained most of the time were at the lake. We spent most of our time at the lake under a couple of tall trees which provide good cover against the rain. I did see several small frogs but no gilled salamander. Seeing salamanders would have made our day.
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