Lake McDonald (altitude 3,144 feet), near Belton, is the lake seen by the greatest number of tourists at the present time. The lower end of this lake is about 2-1/2 miles from Belton, on the Great Northern Railroad, from which place an excellent road has been constructed. Launches make regular trips on this lake and rowboats can be hired.
This lake is 9-1/2 miles in length and has a width of about a mile. Until recently it has been considered bottomless, but a series of soundings made across the lake, opposite Glacier Hotel at the upper end, gave the following results:
Depths in Lake McDonald.
This lake (altitude, 3,865 feet) lies in Avalanche Basin, at the foot of tremendous cliffs, over which come the waters formed by the melting of the snow and ice of Sperry Glacier. It is hemmed in on all sides, except at the outlet, by high mountains. The forests come down to the water's edge. At the upper end of the lake is an open space of a mile or so, kept free from timber, apparently, by avalanches falling from the heights above. At this end there is an area that is comparatively level and open. Stretches of dense brush extend to the foot of the cliff and part of the way up the sides, wherever footing is afforded. The lake is fed almost entirely from the streams of the glacier above. Its outlet is into McDonald Creek. This creek runs through a beautiful gorge a greater portion of the way, making one of the most beautiful walks in the entire park.
The lake is elliptical, about a mile long and half as wide. It has a pebbly shore and is a favorite place for anglers. It is apparently full of fish, notwithstanding the fact that it is fished to a greater extent, perhaps, than any other lake of its size in the park. It is a favorite place for tourists and is about 9 miles by trail from Lake McDonald. At the upper end is a beautiful camp site.
The depth at the lower end, as taken August 4, 1910, was but 4 feet. About halfway up the lake the depth was 54 feet; at two-thirds distance from the lower end, 63 feet; and at the upper end near the shore, 58 feet. The temperature of the water at 3 p. m. on this date was 57° F. The temperature of the air was 70° F.
As will be seen from these figures, the lake is deepest at its upper end. The outlet has been closed by a log jam for many years, as shown by the condition of the logs forming the dam.
At the present time fish ascend the streams above the lake to the foot of the high falls. The microscopic life in the lake is abundant, notwithstanding the fact that the lake is apparently well stocked with fish. The brush and woods adjacent furnish an abundance of insects during the summer months. There are large numbers of insects whose larvae are aquatic, furnishing food in this manner, and the adult in the deposition of their eggs on the water are captured by the fish, or taken as they fall upon the surface.
Avalanche Lake is typical in size and location of many other lakes in the park that are without fish. Since they do so well in this lake, there can be no doubt but they would do fully as well in some of the other lakes that have never been examined. If plans are made for stocking the lakes, it would be well to consider the question of planting more fish in this body of water. The young fish would have plenty of opportunity to hide, have an abundance of microscopic food, and have an outlet to the larger streams in the park when they reach adult size.
Bowman Lake receives the waters from the high mountains on either side of Brown Pass on the Pacific slope. From the Continental Divide to the upper end of the lake the distance by trail is about 8 miles, through scenery that is wonderfully captivating. The trail follows the lake for its entire length of about 6-1/2 miles. Its width is a half mile or less, narrower next the mountains, wider at the lower end. The elevation of the lake above the sea is 4,020 feet. It is a famous fishing resort, easily accessible, with a fairly good shore line, and open at the lower end. It drains into the Flathead River through Bowman Creek. There is a wagon road leading from the lower end of the lake to Flathead River, along which there is a wagon road extending from Belton to the Kintla Lake region. At the lower end of the lake are big meadows, supplying abundance of food for horses and affording a well-known camping site.
The one sounding made in this lake, at a point about half a mile above the lower end, gave a depth of 90 feet. The temperature of the water at 5 p. m. on August 19, 1910, was 59.5° F. Collections made with net and dredge showed that the lake is well supplied with fish food.
Last Updated: 02-Apr-2007