Wednesday was the coolest day here in a couple weeks and a friend and I finally made a quad ride up to Stony Lake that we had been planning for some time. This small cirque lake (located at an elevation of about 6000 feet) sits above the west fork of Fishtrap Creek and is the only one of the cirque lakes in this region (that I know of) that has a road up to it. Warm jackets and rain gear were in order.
To access the lake, turn north from Montana Highway 200 about four miles east of Thompson Falls onto the Thompson River Road (USFS road 56) and follow it about fifteen miles to the Fishtrap road (USFS road 516) on the left, take it nine or ten miles to the West Fork of Fishtrap road (it is plainly marked) turn left on it and follow it about four miles to USFS road 7675 which forks to the right. Follow it up to its end at the lake. It is a good rock and gravel road although rather steep in places and can be very hazardous when snow covered or icy. (I always recommend when traveling in the back country in this area to take a copy of the Lolo National Forest Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger district map along.)
I first saw the lake while elk hunting last fall when it was quite cold, the lake was nearly frozen over, and there was a little snow on the ground. (The last photo in this series, taken on November 5, 2015, will give you an idea of what it was like then.) Ever since that first trip I have been looking forward to seeing it in summer time and I was not disappointed. Following are a few photos of it now in its “green” season.
The sky began spitting snow soon after we left the house. As we started up the final few steep miles to the lake it grew heavier, and when we arrived at the lake, we found that winter had been there first.
Stony Lake sits at about 6000 feet in the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana. It is the first of the cirque lakes that I have visited that has a road right up to it. By the looks of the weather we may have been the last ones to visit the lake before next summer.