Bowman Lake rivals Lake McDonald in
scenic beauty. Stretching for seven miles in length and up to a mile
wide, the lake sits in a deep bowl surrounded by thick forests and towering
mountains. Unlike Lake McDonald, which ends at the base of the first
big mountains, Bowman Lake stretches well into the mountains, providing
a stunning sight of towering mountains seemingly rising straight out
of the lake. Since Bowman Lake is fed entirely by snowmelt, the lake
has very clear water and remains cold all summer long.
Getting to Bowman Lake can be sort of a pain, literally. The main road
to reach Bowman Lake, the North Fork Road that begins in the town of
Columbia Falls, is dirt for much of its distance and is extremely bumpy
and dusty. While the drive is scenic, it is less than fun fighting all
the washboards, holes, softball sized rocks and dust. And this is the
easy part of the trip.
After following the North Fork Road up to the tiny town of Polebridge,
which has no electricity and one very unique store, a very bumpy and
slow ride of an additional seven-miles awaits the traveler to reach Bowman
Lake. The road on this section is very narrow - only one car in width
- and is not at all recommended for trailers of any kind. The road itself
ends at the head of Bowman Lake.
Unlike Lake McDonald, Bowman Lake has
no development on it of any kind except for a small park cabin for employees.
A campground, day use area, horse ramp and a small parking lot round
out the facilities at Bowman Lake.
Unfortunately, the quality of the fishing on Bowman Lake mirrors that
of Lake McDonald, with the difference
being that except for right at the head of the lake, anyone wanting to
fish from the shore on Bowman Lake will need to hike in on one of the
trails that follow the lake. A boat ramp is also available - although
it is seldom used since motor size restrictions keep the vast majority
of motorboat users away. Instead, the most popular boats on Bowman Lake
are inflatable kayaks as well as traditional canoes, as they are much
easier to bring into the lake.
The fish in Bowman Lake consist primarily of small cutthroat trout,
with an occasional large bull trout also found. Kokanee salmon also inhabit
Bowman Lake. As Bowman Lake is fed entirely by snowmelt, the water of
Bowman Lake is just too cold and sterile to support significant populations
of large fish.
While Bowman Lake may in and of itself not be a destination spot for
fishing, it ends up being a midway destination for some anglers. Bowman
Lake is the jumping off spot for many trails (some of which lead to excellent
fishing lakes) that head into the backcountry of Glacier Park in the
North Fork region.
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What kind of rain jacket to get for hiking...and why
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