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A view of Seeley Lake from the Double Arrow Lookout
The community of Seeley Lake, named for the 1,025-acre lake at its front door, has a year-round population of about 2,000 people. Its population swells to more than twice that during the summer months when seasonal residents come home to enjoy their mountain cabins. Seeley Lake is one of a half dozen lakes in the Clearwater Valley known as the "Chain of Lakes," through which the Clearwater River flows.
Seeley Lake is known throughout the Northwest as a resort community, although the timber industry provides most of the permanent jobs for local residents.
The lake itself is stocked several times each year with rainbow trout, some weighing up to 15 pounds. The lake is also very popular among bass fishermen and boasts one of the finest bass fisheries in Western Montana. Other fish species include kokanee salmon, bull trout, whitefish, perch and bluegills.
Seeley Lake has always been a popular winter recreation area. In recent years events such as the Snowmobilavous snowmobile festival, sled dog races and Winterfest, a winter carnival, have all created a renewed interest in winter sports. Cross-country skiers, snowmobilers and ice fishermen love the deep snow and winter beauty that only the Seeley Swan area can offer.
Location: About 3 miles north of the town of Seeley Lake on the west side of Hwy. 83. The ranger station is located on the northern tip of Seeley Lake and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Forest managers here are responsible for many of the recreation facilities in the Seeley Lake area. Receptionists have a wide variety of maps, INCLUDING TOPO MAPS, available to visitors for a small fee. The office also sells Camp Stamps (which give campers a discount at Forest Service campgrounds) and a variety of nature books, hats and t-shirts.
Location: On the western shore of Seeley Lake. Turn west on Boy Scout Road which intersects Hwy. 83 in the town of Seeley Lake. Drive 3-1/2 miles around the lake, across the lake's outlet, until you see the Forest Service sign marking the campground. Facilities: Open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 29 camping units, flush toilets, picnic area, water play area, handicapped facilities, boat launch. There is a charge for overnight camping at this Forest Service facility.
Location: Take Boy Scout Road which intersects Hwy. 83 in the town of Seeley Lake. Drive west for 2-1/2 miles to River Point Campground. Facilities: Overnight camping area open Memorial Day through Labor Day. 27 camping units, picnic area, water play area. Contact the Seeley Lake Ranger District, 677-2233, to reserve the group use site at River Point Campground. There is a charge for overnight camping.
Location: Just north of the town of Seeley Lake on Hwy. 83. Facilities: Open year-round. This spacious campground offers 50 camping units, a popular well-maintained beach, water play area, boat launch, telephone and year-round, non-freeze water hydrants. Handicapped facilities are available. There is a charge for overnight camping at this Forest Service facility.
Location: About 4 miles north of the town of Seeley Lake on the west side of Hwy. 83. Follow the winding dirt road a short distance to the canoe launch site. The parking area will accommodate 4 or 5 vehicles. The area is rich in wildlife, especially birds. Don't forget your binoculars or your life jackets (the latter required by law). The canoe trail flows about 3 miles to where the Clearwater River enters Seeley Lake just north of the Forest Service ranger station. Take-out is at the ranger station. Forest Service personnel are in the process of improving a foot path along the lake between the ranger station and the canoe launch site so that canoeists will be able to more easily walk through the woods to pick up their vehicles at the canoe launch area.
Location: On Boy Scout Road about 3 miles west of Hwy. 83 and the town of Seeley Lake. Cross the bridge at the outlet of Seeley Lake. On the north side of the road lies Camp Paxson - an historical, well-established summer camp operated by Missoula Children's Theatre. Just past Camp Paxson on the south side of the road lies the Jim Girard Memorial Grove of larch trees. The huge larch trees in this area are protected in honor of Jim Girard, a forester and woodsman who once worked in the Seeley Lake area. Several foot paths crisscross the grove and a plaque on a rock near the river tells about the area.
Location: Take the Cottonwood Lakes Road 1/2-mile north of the community of Seeley Lake for about 9 miles to Road #4365. (Cottonwood Lakes are the small lakes near the road here.) Morrell Lookout is nearly 9 miles from this junction. Although the lookout is usually accessible by passenger car, the gravel road is steep and narrow in many places. Contact the Seeley Lake Ranger District, 677-2233, for more information about access to the lookout. Facilities: Panoramic views of the Blackfoot and Clearwater Valleys, the Mission Mountains and the Swan Range. This lookout is manned during fire season by Forest Service personnel. Cottonwood Lakes Location: Take the Cottonwood Lakes Road just north of the community of Seeley Lake and travel east for about 9 miles. The Cottonwood Lakes are two small lakes located along the road.
Location: Take Riverview Drive at the southern entrance to the town of Seeley Lake. Travel through the residential area, across the Clearwater River, and continue on this graveled Forest Service road for about 4 miles. The last 1/2 mile or so the lookout can be rough. For more information about access to the lookout contact the Seeley Lake Ranger District, 677-2233, or obtain a Forest Service Visitor's Map of the area from any number of local businesses.
The Morrell Falls and Morrell Lake Trail #30 has been listed as a National Recreation Trail for many years. It is a popular family hiking trail about 2 miles in length with an easy to moderate grade to the falls area. Morrell Falls is a series of cascades, the longest of which is about 100 feet. Location: Turn east on the Cottonwood Lakes Road north of the Seeley Lake community and travel about 2 miles to the West Morrell Road #467. Turn north and go 7 miles. Take the Pyramid Pass Road for 1/4-mile, then continue north on the Morrell Falls Road #4369 about a mile to the trailhead. Facilities: At the trailhead you will find toilets, but no developed water source. Overnight camping is permitted in the parking area. The Seeley Lake Ranger District offers a free informational handout which includes a simple map to the Morrell Falls Trailhead.
Location: Just north of the community of Seeley Lake on Hwy. 83. This road provides access to the Morrell Falls National Recreation Trail, Cottonwood Lakes, and the Morrell Mountain Lookout. The road continues to the Monture Guard Station and Ovando.