Engle Lake, along with several other high country lakes are spread through a large basin located to the northwest of Engle Peak in the southwest part of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Two trails access the area, the Engle Lake trail # 932 and the Engle Peak trail # 926. We chose trail # 932.
To reach the trail head for 932, you must take USFS road 150 (the Rock Creek road) from Montana Highway 200 near the Noxon Rapids Dam, about 4 miles to USFS road 2285 and then follow it for 7 miles to the trail head. 2285 is a good mountain road that is open all year although not plowed in winter: it is good to check its status with the Cabinet Ranger District before making the trip. There is parking at the trail head for 3 – 4 cars; we had the road and the trail all to ourselves however.
Trail 932 climbs fairly steeply from about 4900 feet at the trail head about 1.5 miles through the McKay Roadless area to the wilderness boundary and a beautiful narrow ridge that flattens out at about 6500 feet. It will meet trail 926 after a mile or so and will continue on to Engle Peak and a short connecting trail down to the lake.
From the ridge trail there are beautiful open views to the south looking down at the lower Clark Fork River valley and the Noxon Reservoir 4000 feet below. To the north of the ridge trail lies the basin containing the lakes, and beyond, some of the mountain peaks of the wilderness.
Following are some of the more than one hundred photos I took during the hike.
Today I had to go to the city; the one that lies just beyond the sharp peak in the distance. There were three ways to return home: a state highway, an interstate for most of the way then a state road, and a primitive forest road through 35 miles of forest. Guess which I chose…
Photos from a hike on 8/7/13 with a good friend. We didn’t get as far as we planned, but were not too disappointed. Made a note to see that part of the wilderness from another access point. The photos will give you an idea of what the trail was like.
Wild hollyhock ~ Iliamna rivularis
Douglas’ spirea, rose spirea ~ Spiraea douglasii
Crossing Devil’s Club Creek
Tiling’s monkey-flower ~ Erythranthe tilingi
Brewer’s mitrewort,feathery bishop’s-cap ~ Pectiantia breweri: This flower was new to me and I may not have the correct identification for it.