A bit of a misnomer, here—Lava Lake was in fact formed by an earthquake (though this could devolve into a chicken-and-egg story, in the context of local geography and the Yellowstone “supervolcano”). With a prominent trailhead in Gallatin Canyon between Bozeman and Big Sky, the trail clamboring alongsigde the aptly named Cascade Creek to Lava Lake is well trodden. Atop three miles and 1,600 feet waits a sizable alpine lake attractively framed by granite walls—it’s well worth the effort! And it is an effort, the grade cranks up and the trail switchbacks repeatedly before reaching the lake.
If you’re looking for... more elevation gain and a lot more distance, fork left once you reach Lava Lake, and the trail climbs to the east ridge above the lake, continuing on for the intrepid to over 10,000 feet and the summit of Table Mountain.
Distance: 3 miles, one-way
Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
Seasons: Mid-May to mid-October, weather permitting
Trail(s) used: #77
Map of trailhead:
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