Updated: Aug 31
The Hearst Lake Trail and Mt. Haggin are local staples in Anaconda, MT. With the primary trailhead located just west of town, most locals can leave home and be on the trail in literally a matter of minutes. And as local hikes go, Hearst Lake and Mt. Haggin don’t disappoint: spectacular alpine environment; vast, sweeping views; stunning high-mountain lakes and seasonal streams; and abundant wildlife.
The gated, two-track trail begins adjacent to a church parking lot at the intersection of Evergreen St. and Stumptown Rd., near Fifer Gulch. If you need to park, be respectful of the church and park out of the way, as to leave plenty of parking for church employees and visitors. Once through the gate, the trail moves gently uphill through grasslands before meandering into an aspen grove and another gate, about one mile up. From there, the aspens give way to a softwood forest as the trail steepens, becomes more rugged and rocky, and ascends a narrow valley to the lake, about 4.5 miles. Along the way, several seasonal streams parallel and bisect the trail; further up, a seasonal pond and then a lower lake can be seen on the trail’s left.
Hearst Lake, at just over 8100 feet, is a stunning mountain lake, and worthy of the 11+ mile hike all by itself. But looming just above the lake, the prominent, majestic Mt. Haggin (considered by many the Patron Mountain of Anaconda!) practically beckons the adventures to push on. And though Mt. Haggin isn’t a “technical” climb, it is a steep hike or scramble (depending on route chosen) and makes for a long day in the mountains.
From the lake, a spur trail moves west around to the north side of the lake to a prominent drainage (and seasonal water source) flowing from the basin above. Follow a faint trail that moves steeply into the upper basin, past a small seasonal pond, and across a tranquil alpine meadow to an old log cabin, about 8800 ft. At this point, the cirque and Mt. Haggin looms above. The standard “route” from here is to follow an inexplicable cable, or large wire, that loosely runs up the face from time to time. Be careful: the footing is loose, quite steep at times, and it’s easy to become disoriented on the cirque face. Also, the large boulder fields can be unstable. But if you persevere, the views from atop the 10,607 ft. peak are breathtaking!
Mileage: Hearst Lake: about 11.5 miles round trip; Mt. Haggin: about 15 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: Hearst Lake: 2800 ft.; Mt. Haggin: 5200 ft.
Difficulty: Hearst Lake: Moderate; Mt. Haggin: Hard
Water: Lake; seasonal surface water
Important Information: The Hearst Lake trail is considered walk-in only (no mechanized travel). The lake is a water source for the town of Anaconda and all overnight camping is prohibited. Tread lightly to avoid damaging fragile vegetation, do not pick the wildflowers. Plan well and be prepared as the weather changes quickly. Pack Out what you Pack In.