An overlooked gem in the Great Bear Wilderness

BY GREG LINDSTROM
Sunny skies in the winter are a rarity, so the next time Mother Nature offers you a clear day grab your gear and head toward Essex. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon snowshoe or a backcountry ski trip, Marion Lake in the Great Bear Wilderness is an overlooked gem worth your effort. While many winter wanderers opt to explore Glacier National Park or the local ski areas, this alpine lake offers snow, solitude and spectacular views.

The trail climbs significantly at the beginning, with switchbacks carving through a dense forest of snow-covered trees. Less than a mile into the hike, the trail levels out somewhat and crosses the Great Bear Wilderness boundary. From here, views open to the north and peaks in Glacier National Park are visible on a clear day. The trail roughly follows Marion Creek approximately two miles to the lake.

For day-hikers, the lake makes an excellent lunch spot to catch your breath before returning down the trail. Thrill-seekers can scale the ridge at the head of the lake and ski the chutes on the surrounding peaks. The Izaak Walton Inn, located approximately a mile from the trailhead, is an obvious choice for a post-hike meal.

Directions: From West Glacier, drive east on U.S. Highway 2 for approximately 28 miles and turn right on Dickey Creek Road. Follow the road across the railroad tracks and stay left at the fork. Continue for approximately two miles to the trailhead.