Hiker’s Guide to Montana’s Breathtaking Mission Falls

If you’re dreaming of waterfalls and forest trails, Mission Falls in Montana is what you’re looking for. It’s got lush forests, challenging trails, and a link to historic sites. Picture yourself surrounded by trees, feeling the spray of water, and seeing the beautiful Mission Mountains in the background.

Making a Montana hiking list? Put Mission Falls on it for its quiet beauty and great photo spots. You’ll be enchanted by this natural paradise.

Nearby, you can also explore Elizabeth Falls and Lucifer Lake Trail. Keep reading to learn more about this amazing place. If you’re curious, adventure trails and stunning landscapes are waiting for you. Ready to explore Mission Falls? Let’s go!

7 Key Takeaways on Mission Falls

  1. Mission Falls is a picturesque spectacle nestled in Montana wilderness, blending history with natural beauty and earning its place as one of Montana’s most well-known waterfalls.
  2. Hiking trails in Mission Falls cater to all skill levels, from family-friendly to more advanced routes. Visitors should come prepared for changing weather and wildlife encounters and must adhere to safety practices while carrying a conservation license.
  3. Mission Falls Trailhead located near St. Ignatius in Montana and accessible via the Mission Dam Road, the Mission Falls Trailhead provides a challenging trail experience leading to two waterfalls. 
  4. The Lucifer Lake Trail offers a strenuous but rewarding journey, requiring good preparation and hiking management.
  5. A hike to Mission Falls is described as strenuous and requires careful planning, from appropriate clothing and gear to safety measures like hiking in groups.
  6. Respect for local regulations and emphasis on safety are important final considerations for those visiting the challenging, yet undeniably alluring Mission Falls.
  7. Unveiling Montana’s Natural Splendor Visitors are encouraged to unleash their inner explorer at Mission Falls, an invitation to experience Montana’s great outdoors in its pristine, raw glory. The experience extends beyond just the falls, creating memories that last a lifetime.

About Mission Falls

Location CoordinatesElevationNearby FeaturesLocation
47.3366° N, 114.3708° W4,941 feet (1,506 meters)Elizabeth Falls, Lucifer LakeMission Mountains Tribal Wilderness Area, Lake County, Montana

Named for the St. Ignatius Mission, dating back to the 1890s, Montana’s Mission Falls exudes its mysterious allure. The falls are beautifully nestled within a diverse evergreen forest – a verdant room dotted with silver streams and floral accents, as if Mother Nature herself had taken up decorating.

Why is Mission Falls Special?

  • Charming Exclusivity – It may not be hiding in the Glacier National Park alongside the more talked-about falls, but Mission Falls is a celebrity in its own right, boasting visitors from all over Montana.
  • It Offers Variety – From trekking on the infamous Lucifer Lake Trail to chasing the rainbow-draped falls – it’s a canvas of nature’s finest work.
  • Historical Value – Named after the St. Ignatius Mission, the fall serves as a backdrop for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The Lucifer Lake Trail leads to a stunning waterfall nestled within Montana’s lush forests. The trail offers moderate hiking with picturesque scenery. However, a conservation license from The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe is required for a nominal fee. 

Paying the fee for the conservation license might seem like a downer, but it’s a good thing. It helps keep the trails well-maintained and ensures your hike to Mission Falls is safe and enjoyable.

Before you set off, do dig into some local knowledge by contacting The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes or dropping by the Ignatius Mission — they might prep you with a tale or two to further illuminate your journey.

Hiking Trails Near Mission Falls

A hiker stands on a mountain trail near Mission Falls, taking in the breathtaking view of the vast landscape under a clear blue sky in Montana.

Can you imagine the sheer exhilaration of walking on trails that weave through nature’s pristine beauty all around Mission Falls? The feeling is unbeatable, as you become one with the fragrant wildflowers, the soothing sound of the rushing river, and the stunning views you encounter.

Mission Falls Trailhead

Hikers help each other out as they trek Mission Falls Trail

Your Montana hiking expedition wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Mission Falls, a hidden gem of the Mission Mountains. The trailhead, an access point for the Mission Falls hiking trail, is an invigorating 2-mile (3.2 km) jaunt east of St. Ignatius alongside the beautiful Mission Reservoir. Pull on your hiking boots and brace yourself for a heart-pumping workout.

The trail leading up to Mission Falls is no walk in the park. It’s an extremely strenuous one, but what a reward awaits at the end! As you hike through the wilderness, you’ll be treated to incredible views of picturesque waterfalls, including the remarkable Elizabeth Falls, and the waterfall-lined backdrop of the Mission Mountains.

With algae making some rocks around Mission Falls a bit slippery, sensible footwear and a cautious approach are a must. Safety first, folks; it’s no fun tumbling down the last stretch of the trail!

Once you secure a conservation license (required for hiking tribal land), it’s time to tackle the challenge. Beware, however — false or game trails can be deceiving, so it’s crucial to stay on the right track.

You’ll be surprised to discover that the trail past Mission Falls also offers access to the equally charming Elizabeth Falls, although the trail is somewhat rugged beyond the former. The Mission Falls trail is an entire experience, from its rough start to the beautiful payout. 

Lucifer Lake Trail

Lucifer Lake, with crystalline waters nestled at the foot of majestic, rugged mountains under a partly cloudy sky in Montana.

The Lucifer Lake Trail is an exhilarating adventure that begins near Mission Falls within the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness Area, located in Lake County, Montana. This renowned trail offers a challenging yet rewarding journey through rugged terrain, providing hikers with an unforgettable experience from start to finish.

Why You Should Try Lucifer Lake Trail:

  • The trail location is right near Mission Falls and Elizabeth Falls, treat yourself to an amazing journey through waterfalls.
  • Do you have some serious stamina? This journey will take around 2 hours one way, totaling about 2.4 miles (3.8 km).
  • The hike is serious business, but manageable. It’s rated as strenuous, with steep sections and rugged terrain that provide a satisfying challenge.
  • The net elevation gain to Mission Falls is 1,194 feet  (364 meters)– an upward journey that will truly make you feel accomplished.

To fully experience the grandeur of Lucifer Lake Trail, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some pro tips:

  • Wear sturdy hiking boots for good traction.
  • Bring more water than you think you’ll need.
  • Snack time is crucial. Pack some healthy nibbles to keep your energy up.
  • Don’t forget emergency essentials like a first aid kit, map, and a whistle.

For a great adventure, listen to experienced trail guides and explore these awesome paths. If you’re ready to flex those hiking muscles, add Lucifer Lake Trail to your Montana checklist. Just remember, the journey might be tough, but the reward at each turn – it’s something you don’t want to miss out on.

What to Prepare on Your Hike to Mission Falls

Two hikers sharing a happy moment in a sunlit mountain meadow, surrounded by rolling hills and lush greenery near Mission Falls in Montana.

Mission Falls, located in Lake County, Montana, is a breathtaking waterfall that carves its way through the raw and untamed beauty of the backcountry. If you’re looking for an adventure that pairs the serenity of a natural wonder with a physically challenging trail, this is your spot.

The path to Mission Falls can be rough, with some overgrown areas where you might need to clear a path through bushes. It’s a hike for those who are physically fit, so be sure to get ready before you start your journey!

Pre-Hike Preparations:

  1. Wear Appropriate Footwear – Choose sturdy hiking boots with good ankle and sole support.
  2. Dress for the Occasion – Depending on the season, make sure to wear layers and weather-appropriate clothing.
  3. Pack Smart – Bring snacks or a meal, plenty of water, and essential emergency gear like a first-aid kit.
  4. Buddy Up – Never hike alone. This is a tough trail, so safety in numbers always applies here.
  5. Sun Protection – Don’t leave home without sunblock and sunglasses.
  6. Plan Your Hike According to Time – This isn’t a quick jaunt, so make sure you have enough daylight to complete your journey.

Naturally, it’s wise to heed these tips for any muscle-burning treks you take on, but for a spot like Mission Falls, they’re especially important. Think of them as your tools of the trade; after all, you wouldn’t take on a job without the right gear, right?

If you love adventures, Mission Falls has an exciting but tough hike to its stunning waterfall. Being ready for this challenging trail makes it safer and more fun.

Mission Falls Montana Final Thoughts

The Mission Falls cascades down rugged cliffs amid a lush, green forest under a partly cloudy sky in Montana.

Mission Falls in Montana is a testament to the breathtaking beauty and thrilling challenges awaiting outdoor enthusiasts. As you prepare for your journey, remember the importance of readiness. Proper footwear, supplies, and obtaining a conservation license for hiking on tribal land are essential steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Safety should always be a priority. Exercise caution on potentially slippery terrain, and never go on the adventure alone. Hiking companionship adds an extra layer of security and enhances the overall experience.

Despite its challenges, Mission Falls beckons with an irresistible allure. It offers a captivating glimpse into Montana’s pristine wilderness, promising endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

If you’re trekking to Mission Falls itself or exploring nearby attractions like Elizabeth Falls, the memories and experiences awaiting adventurers are bound to be unforgettable.

Mission Falls stands as a shining example of Montana’s natural splendor, inviting all who dare to immerse themselves in its majestic beauty and embrace the adventure it offers.

Mission Falls Montana FAQs

1. What Waterfalls Are in the Mission Mountains?

In the Mission Mountains, notable waterfalls include Mission Falls and Elizabeth Falls. These cascades offer stunning views amidst the wilderness of the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness Area in Lake County, Montana.

2. Is Mission Falls Open to the Public?

Yes, Mission Falls is open to the public for exploration and enjoyment. However, visitors should be aware that access to Mission Falls may require a conservation license and adherence to regulations set by The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

3. Where Is Mission Falls Located?

Mission Falls is located in the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness Area in Lake County, Montana. It can be accessed via the Lucifer Lake Trail, near St. Ignatius, Montana.

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Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding PocketMontana.com was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

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