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Clearwater River Canoe Trail


  • Glacier
  • National Forest Trail
Clearwater River Canoe Trail is exceptional 1 to 2 hour canoe trip that flows through a dense willow marsh on an isolated portion of the Clearwater River. This is one of the most popular 'trails' in the Seeley Lake Ranger District. This is a canoe trail, however, motorized boat use is allowed at a no-wake speed while on the Clearwater River portion of the trail.

The 3.5 mile distance can be canoed at a leisurely pace in about 2 hours. There's an information board with maps at the put-in. The float offers an outstanding opportunity to view warblers, nesting common loons, bitterns, catbirds, snipes, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, and common goldeneyes. Western painted turtles, large trout, muskrats, beavers, and dragonflies are common. Great place for kids and adults alike. The last part of the trip crosses the north end of Seeley Lake. A 30-minute return-hiking trail winds by the river and wetlands, eliminating shuttle problems and providing viewing access for non-floaters. On the trail, be sure to stop at the wildlife viewing blind, which allows great close-up views of waterfowl, yellow-headed blackbirds, sandhill cranes, and marsh-loving songbirds. Brochures about the canoe trail are available at the Seeley Lake Ranger Station.

There is parking at the trailhead for approximately 6 vehicles and an outdoor toilet is also provided. There is no drinking water available. Visitors are reminded to practice 'Leave No Trace' techniques while canoeing, hiking and picnicking in the area.
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Mailing Address
Lolo National Forest
3583 Highway 83
Seeley Lake, MT 59868
Closed to motorized MSO.
Special direction map

From Seeley Lake, drive 4 miles north on Montana Highway 83. Turn west at the Clearwater Canoe Trail sign and proceed 0.5 mile to the put-in. The canoe take-out and start of the return trail are at the Seeley Lake Ranger Station.