Nestled in a tight basin, Coquina Lake is a true gem of a day hike in the Lost Horse country of the Bitterroot Mountains. I have fallen in love with the Lost Horse country, which I have not hiked until this summer (next hike will be the Spruce Lake). From the Bear Creek Pass trailhead, the trail meanders through and around a boulder-strewn slope until you arrive at the junction with the path to Fish Lake (another great hike). A slight uphill leads to Upper Bear Lake, a shallow depression surrounded by grass (seems perfect for moose sighting, no moose this time). At this point, there is no “official” trail, BUT the way to Coquina Lake is quite evident, and in fact, it is the best section of trail (in terms of footing) during the entire hike. After crossing a ridge, the descent of the lake is largely on huge granite slabs.
This year’s wildfires have largely filled the Big Sky with choking levels of smoke, and on this day this pattern held true. Surrounding the lake are several granite peaks that all crash into the placid water of Coquina Lake. Sitting on a slab of granite, paddle-tailed darners coursed back and forth along the shoreline, and their wings were the sound. Just a peaceful, even if I was being type-A (or was it hungry for a Rustic Hut pizza). Even the horse flies give us a break. I have endured more of those bitey little bastards this year than I care to.
Max elevation: 7041 ft