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Montana Birding and Nature Trail
Discover the Nature of Montana...

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Lake Como

Large and Lively

The largest lake in the Bitterroot

Offering recreation for people and habitat for wildlife, from loons to dragonflies.

Lake Como Site Map

Download Printable Version of Site Information

Field Notes

Pause at the pond at the northwest corner of the lake near the campground. Here a cacophony of breeding Pacific treefrogs announce the arrival of spring in late March to mid-April. In summer, a white-tailed dragonfly lands on a pond lily. Darners zip everywhere like electric blue sparks. Look for moose droppings and tracks by the pond's edge. Above the lake, a bald eagle flaps low, searching for fish. Walk the lake trail under open ponderosas to a waterfall at the north side of the lake. Watch for pileated woodpeckers. Return in spring to see migrating loons and goldeneyes resting on the largest lake in the Bitterroot.

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Habitat Link

The deep waters of the lake are fed by the snow-covered peaks of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, rising to 10,000 feet. The headwaters offer an invaluable source of pure, good water for people and wildlife alike.

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Cultural Link

Lake Como is a reservoir developed in the early 1900s as the start of "the Big Ditch" - a 75-mile irrigation ditch that crosses the river and runs north almost the length of the valley. The reservoir covered two smaller natural lakes.

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Viewing Tip

Summer weekends are often noisy with motorboats, jet skis, and swimmers. Best birding and nature viewing are spring and summer weekdays. The trail leading west along the lake, past the waterfall and into the wilderness starts with a 1/4-mile paved nature trail featuring six interpretive signs on natural history. You can also circle the lake - a seven-mile hike.

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Helpful Hint

Lake Como is a popular recreation complex. In summer, you'll need to pay a user fee.

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Getting There

Eight miles south of Hamilton on Highway 93, turn west on Lost Horse Road. Drive 2.5 miles to Forest Road 496, following signs to the Coyote Coulee Trailhead. Park and hike part or all of the first loop (4.4 miles). Walk a half-mile up Lost Horse road to see red-naped sapsuckers, MacGillivray's warblers and warbling vireos in the aspen grove.

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Contact

Bitterroot National Forest, Darby Ranger District, 712 N. Main, Darby, MT, 59829; (406) 821-3913

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