Ten Lakes Scenic Area

Located in the extreme northwest corner of Montana, the Ten Lake Scenic Area of the Kootenai National Forest offers more than 89 miles of trails of remote backpacking and hiking opportunities through rugged terrain with spectacular mountain views reaching into Canada. Many high mountain lakes offer fishing for the angler and scenic views for the photographer. Mountains rise to elevations of more than 7,800 feet. High alpine mountains, cool clear high mountain lakes, peaceful meandering trails, all combine to make Ten Lakes Scenic Area a backpacker's delight.

Ten Lakes Scenic Area offers remote backpacking opportunties
Ten Lakes Scenic Area offers remote hiking and backpacking trail experiences.

Kootenai Forest Map. Click image for larger view.Ten Lakes Scenic Area encompasses 15,700 acres, with an additional 19,000 acres surrounding it. The Ten Lakes Scenic Area is one of an original nine areas designated for special wilderness evaluation under the Montana Wilderness Study Act. Located along the northeastern edge of the Forest with the Canadian border as one of its boundaries, the Ten Lakes Area is dominated by a high ridge of the Whitefish Mountains. The 1984 Montana Wilderness Study Act recommended the Ten Lakes Scenic Area and segments of the surrounding country as wilderness. While not officially designated, the Kootenai National Forest is managing the area to keep its wilderness characteristics. Motorized vehicles or equipment of any kind are not allowed in the Scenic Areas or portions recommended for Wilderness, except for over-snow vehicles.

Alpine glaciers shaped much of the present rugged scenery. As the glaciers grew they carved deep scallops, or cirques, and high, rim-rocked basins sheltering the many lakes of the area. The area is named for the Ten Lakes basin along the Canadian border. Other alpine lakes, often bordered on one side by subalpine vegetation and on the other by a headwall or rook harboring old snowdrifts, hide in nearly every high basin and cirque. Offering spectacular beauty are the Therriault Lakes and Bluebird Basin areas. Poorman Mountain reaching 7832 feet is the highest peak with Ksanksa, Stahl and Independence Peaks ranging from 7505 to 7416 feet scattered throughout the range. 

Camping, hiking and horseback riding are the favorite uses of the area, with more than 89 miles of trails available. Little and Big Therriault Campgrounds provide campsites, fire rings, water pumps and vault toilets. The Horse Camp has hitching posts, feed racks, a fire ring, table and outhouse. At Horse Camp space is provided for trailer turn-around and parking. Trailhead bulletin boards display trail maps as well as seasonal information. 

The area is habitat to many wildlife species, including black and grizzly bear. Backpackers are Ten Lakes area map (click map for larger image)advised to carry pepper spray and practice sanitary food storage procedures. The area is remote, so hikers should check on current trail conditions and advisories from the local Forest Service office before venturing into the wilderness. The Ten Lakes is a Pack In/Pack Out area.

Forested areas contain Englemann spruce, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, white bark pine, and the uncommon alpine larch. Wildflowers are abundant in spring and summer and a variety of forbs and shrubs, including huckleberry, grow under and around the trees. Several trails criss-cross the Ten Lakes Scenic Area and are accessed from Highway 93 via various Forest roads. Trailhead bulletin boards display trail maps as well as seasonal information. 

Special Hiking Considerations

  • The fragile soils in this high country retain the imprint of humans long after they have gone home. Please stay on the trails.
  • Most lakes have designated camp sites. Visitors are encouraged to use them.
  • Food should be suspended at least 10 feet in the air, out of the reach of bears.
  • Visitors should use only designated fire rings or small backpack cook stoves and carry trash out with them.
  • Visitors should keep a clean camp so as not to attract bears and other animals.
  • The area lakes contain fish, but fish remains should not be left next to streams or lake shores.
Ten Lakes Scenic Area
(Click on map for larger image)
78 Clarence/Rich
80 Stahl Creek
81 Stahl Creek
82 Sinclair Creek
83 Bluebird
84 Wolverine Lakes
85 Little Therriault Loop
86 Big Therriault Loop
87 Terriault Pass
88 Sinclair Creek
89 Rainbow Lake
92 Blacktail
95 Therri X Country
190 Big Therr/Highline
335 Gibralter Ridge
339 Highline
341 Little Therr/Highline
The Ten Lakes Scenic area is located in the northwest corner of Montana, 20 miles off Hwy 93 near Eureka and is reached by Forest Roads #114 and 319.

For more information contact:
Fortine Ranger District
PO Box 116
Fortine,  MT  59918
(406) 882-4451
or stop by the Murphy Lake Ranger Station on Hwy 93, 2 miles south of Fortine, Montana.

Information is also available at the Kootenai National Forest Supervisor's Office:
Kootenai National Forest
506 US Highway 2 West
Libby, MT 59923
(406) 293-6211

All page content copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Photos by LibbyMT.com unless otherwise credited.
Ten Lakes trail map from the USFS Fortine RD brochure, "The Ten Lakes Scenic Area and Recommended Wilderness" R1-98-90.
Kootenai Forest maps by Kootenai National Forest.
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