Clearwater River Canoe Trail #7777A

This canoe trail, north of the town of Seeley Lake, in on a slow-moving, meandering stretch of the Clearwater River upstream of Seeley Lake. The 3.5 mile waterway, with a slight current, can be canoed at a leisurely pace in about 2 hours.

This is a dual recreation area which, in conjunction with the adjacent 1.5-mile hiking trail, forms a loop. Parking lots are available on both ends of the trails. Canoe trail and return/hiking trail offer similar wildlife viewing opportunities whether on the water or on land. There is a wildlife viewing blind with interpretive sign along the hiking trail and also at the trailhead for the canoe trail.

This trail has Extended Information which includes details about the trail, maps, and interesting tidbits about the trail.

Photo of people in canoes navigating the canoe trail. Brush and sand on the shores of the waterway.

At a Glance

Rentals & Guides: Canoe rentals are available in the town of Seeley Lake.
Usage: Light
Restrictions: No-wake speed restriction for motorized watercraft. Please view our Visitor Guidelines.
Closest Towns: Seeley Lake, Montana
Water: No drinking water available
Restroom: Vault toilets
Information Center: Seeley Lake Ranger District, 406-677-2233

General Information

Directions: Directions to the trailhead: from the town of Seeley Lake, travel 3.7 miles north on Montana highway 83. Take Forest Service Road #17597 (west side of the highway) and travel 0.7 miles to the trailhead. Directions to the take-out point: The canoe trail take-out point, loading area, and parking area/restroom, is behind the Seeley Lake Ranger Station. Leaving the trailhead, travel back to the intersection where Forest Service Road #17597 meets Montana highway 83. Head south 0.7 miles to the ranger station (follow signs) back toward the town of Seeley Lake. The parking lot, loading area, and take-out point are behind the ranger station, between the lake and the ranger station.
General Notes: You can take a one mile hiking trail back to the canoe trail trailhead, thus eliminating the need to shuttle vehicles. Parking for approximately 6 vehicles at the canoe launch and at the canoe landing/take-out point. Please note: there is a vehicle area at the take-out point near the water's edge that is for loading/unloading only, and there is a separate parking area with toilet uphill from the take-out point. Vault toilets at the trailhead and take-out point. See our extended information document.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


River and Stream Fishing

The canoe trail and return trail offer fishing opportunities.
Fish Species brown trout, largemouth bass, mountain whitefish, northern pike, yellow perch, kokanee
Difficulty Level: Easy

Viewing Wildlife

The Clearwater River Canoe Trail offers excellent opportunities for bird and wildlife watching, sight-seeing, and photography and is one of the most popular ¿trails¿ on the Seeley Lake Ranger District. Early morning is typically the best time to observe wildlife. To help you identify birds, bring along a pair of binoculars and a field guide. A local ¿bird list¿ is available at the ranger station. There is an interpretive sign about wildlife at the canoe the take-out site. Please do not disturb the wildlife!
Species Sightings may include osprey, bald eagles, belted kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, common loons, red-necked grebes, yellow warblers, and a variety of other ducks and birds. Mammals common to the river environment include white-tailed deer, moose, mountain lion, mink, muskrat, beaver, and an occasional otter. The fish living in the river and Seeley Lake include introduced species such as northern pike, large-mouth bass, perch, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon, and native species such as westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout. Also, keep an eye out for western painted turtles, spotted frogs, and red-sided garter snakes.
Difficulty Level: Easy

Interpretive Areas

Take a loon's view of wildlife on the Clearwater Canoe Trail is the message on the interpretive sign, greeting paddlers and wildlife viewers. Ethical wildlife watching is an important message. Walk to the canoe trail take-out and scan the north end of Seeley Lake for common loons and bald eagles.
Difficulty Level: Easy

Boating - Non-Motorized

The trail is suitable for canoes and touring kayaks. Motorized watercraft are allowed, but a no-wake speed limit is in effect for the river portion of the trail. There are no rapids, but be on the lookout for fallen trees. The river empties into the northern end of Seeley Lake. From the mouth of the river, travel east to the Seeley Lake Ranger Station and the canoe take-out point.
Type of Craft canoe, kayak
Difficulty Level: Easy

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
3.5 miles along canoe route; 1 mile hike to return to canoe launch.

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
3993 feet - 4000 feet