Special Places

Ten Lakes Scenic Area

Designated as a Scenic Area in 1964, the Ten Lakes has been set aside for backcountry use for over 30 years. The 1977 Montana Wilderness Study Act designated the Ten Lakes Scenic Area as a Wilderness Study Area (WSA). The Kootenai National Forest manages the Ten Lakes WSA to preserve its wilderness characteristics. Motorized vehicles or equipment of any kind are not allowed in the Scenic Area and portions of the WSA, except for over-snow vehicles.

The scenic area is comprised of 14,945 acres. 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.

Characteristics

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 flanked on one side by subalpine vegetation and on the other by a headwall or rock 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 Ksanka, Stahl and Independence Peaks ranging from 7505 to 7416 feet scattered throughout the range. Forested areas contain Englemann spruce, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, whitebark 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. High alpine mountains, cool clear, high mountain lakes, peaceful meandering trails combine to make the Ten Lakes Scenic Area a worthy destination for any traveler to northwest Montana.

Access

Easily reached by Forest Roads # 114 and 319, the Ten Lakes Scenic Area is located in the northwest corner of Montana, 20 miles off Hwy 93 near Eureka.

Recreational Activities

Camping, hikingand horseback riding are the favorite uses of the area, with over 89 miles of trails provided. Littleand Big TherriaultCampgrounds 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 turnaround and parking. Trailhead bulletin boards display trail maps as well as seasonal information. The Ten Lakes is a Pack In/Pack Out area. Wild animals are common in the area, ranging from white-tailed and mule deer to black and grizzly bear. Smaller pika can be seen in the rock talus slopes above many of the lakes, and a wide variety of high mountain birds make their summer home there.

Considerations When Visiting

Some special consideration will help keep the Ten Lakes clean for your next visit.

  • 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 campsites, we encourage visitors to use them to protect water quality.
  • Suspend food out of reach of bears-at least 10 feet above ground and 4 feet out from tree trunks.
  • Use only designated fire rings or small backpack cook stoves and carry trash out with you. Unsanitary camps attract bears and other animals.
  • Some fish can be caught from the lakes, but please don't leave their remains next to streams or lakeshores.

Please, take only pictures ...leave only memories

For more information contact:

Murphy Lake Ranger Station
12797 US Hwy 93 S/P.O. Box 116
Fortine, MT 59918
(406) 882-4451

Or stop by the Murphy Lake Ranger Station on Hwy 93, 2 miles south of Fortine, MT