I visited Gunsight Lake in 2014 as part of a memorable 20 mile day hike that took us to Gunsight Pass, Lake Ellen Wilson, Lincoln Pass, Sperry Chalet, and out to Lake McDonald Lodge. So when some of my girlfriends invited me to hike with them to Gunsight Lake I gladly accepted the invitation to visit this picturesque lake again. I was also curious to see how the wildfires of 2015 had changed this area.
We began the hike from the Jackson Glacier Overlook parking area. The trail descended into the Reynolds Creek drainage and not far into the hike we were treated to some delicious, perfectly ripe huckleberries. The sight of the charred pine trees and the thriving, dense ground cover and shrubs were evidence of the Reynolds Creek Fire.
As the hike continued to reveal how much of this area had burned, I had to remind myself of the important ecological role wildfires play in nature. Wildfires help the forest regenerate by clearing out dead undergrowth, providing nutrients into the soil, and can often provide desirable habitats for wildlife like certain bird species.
I made sure to keep my eye out for moose as the trail paralleled the St. Mary River. We made a brief stop at Mirror Pond which offers beautiful, unobstructed views of the mountains. No moose sightings here either, but I did spot several toads. Once we reached the junction for the Florence Falls Trail we decided to hike the spur trail to Florence Falls before continuing on to Gunsight Lake. The trail takes you right up to a ledge in front of the water as it cascades over broad, terraced rocks. This waterfall is gorgeous and definitely worth the side trip!
As we continued back on the trail towards the lake, the pink blooms of Fireweed and views of Blackfoot Glacier and the surrounding peaks delighted us. At the lake we found the perfect lunch spot with views out across the emerald-colored lake to Mt. Jackson and Gunsight Mountain and the many waterfalls streaming down their rocky slopes.