Four Lakes Basin in the Southern Cabinet Mountains - Montana

Jan 9, 2018
This is an area and a route that I had hiked a few years ago. When I did it the first time it instantly became one of my favorite hikes.

The first time I was here it was really smoky. This time the skies were much clearer and I expected the views to be that much better. The trail starts climbing right away with a shallow stream crossing near the beginning. The views start opening up right away. The trail climbs 1800 feet in 2.5 miles and ends at Cabin Lake. Our home for the first night. There are a few campsites around the lake. We stayed in the main horse camp as you get to the lake. We met a few people there who had rode in on horseback. They had cleared the trail on the way in so there were only a couple of blow downs to contend with on our way in.

The next day we continued south to a little pass above Cabin Lake. Once you cross the pass (and drop down a couple switchbacks), you come to one of my favorite views of the whole route. The view of Cube Iron Mountain is amazing as you round a corner. From there we dropped down into the Four Lakes Basin. There was still a bunch of snow down there. No trail crews had been in there yet so there were some pretty gnarly blow down sections. We picked our way through and finally made it to the base of Cube Iron Pass.

Here it looked like that had been a serious avalanche during the winter. There was a lot more snow here. There was no chance of finding the trail in the snow and I started to worry if we would even be able to make it up. I knew that the bowl that Goat Lakes was in (our destination for the night), has the same aspect as the one we were currently in. So my thought was that there could be just as much snow in there as there was here. I'm done with camping on the snow for this year. So I was having 2nd thoughts about trying to make it down in there. We decided that we would get to the top of the pass and see what things looked like from there. It was slow going picking our way up the pass.

We finally made and it was dry at the top. The next section we knew would be dry since it was an exposed ridge line. We pushed on across the ridge which is another favorite section of mine over looking much of the south Cabinets and in to the Bitterroot Range. You can also see Thompson Falls pretty well if you go over to Mt Silcox.

Since we had made it that far with no issues, we decided that we were continue on and try to make it down to Goat Lakes. It turned out that the trail was dry most of the way down, which is lucky for us because it gets really steep. The ridge down from Mt Silcox to Goat Lakes is truly beautiful.

We made camp at the horse in between the two lakes. There was some snow in there, but we were able to find some trees without snow beneath them.

The next day we continued on to finish the loop. Once we hit the lower Goat Lake it was on to our first climb of the day. This is a fairly short climb with great views of the Goat Lakes Basin and Mt Silcox. From there we dropped into the next drainage and started our last climb for the trip, back up to the ridge. This area was burned back in 2015. It's making a nice recovery, but still has a ways to go. Once back on the ridge we retraced our steps back to Cube Iron Pass and down to the junction with the trail to the Four Lakes Trailhead.

Overall it was an incredible trip, with just enough snow and blow downs to keep it spicy. Sadly, a few weeks after our trip, lightening started a fire in the area and at the time of writing this, the fire had made it to Cube Iron Pass and is moving in to the Four Lakes Basin.

Thanks for watching!

Sad... But lightning fires can be tolerated. Too many places to go before something like that may happen ..
Nice area! Lots of dead standing timber and fire situation is sad. But the recovery of older burn sections certainly proves that it'll come back.
great trip and video. There is always a good mix in your videos, and sometimes you just let the music and the scenes pass by.
Early June hiking I think has mud, creek crossings, snow and blowdowns somewhere in its definition!
Glad you shared.
Love the camera work and the narration. Looks incredible!

I was thinking about going to the Cabinets around the 4th this year but ended up in the Swan Range. Looks like I need to go for it next year.
great trip and video. There is always a good mix in your videos, and sometimes you just let the music and the scenes pass by.
Early June hiking I think has mud, creek crossings, snow and blowdowns somewhere in its definition!
Glad you shared.
Yeah, this one had all of the that! Not too much mud, but always worth it!
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