Holland Lake is a popular destination in western Montana because of its water, the day hike to Holland Falls, and the campground. It’s a lake I have visited many times. Only 1 hr. 20 min. from Missoula, and nearly the same from Kalispell, it’s an easy day trip for families, couples, or those seeking solitude. From Seeley Lake it’s 20 miles northwest on Montana Highway 83 (between mile markers 36 and 37), then 2.9 miles down Holland Lake Road to Larch Loop Campground, then another ¾ of a mile to the Bay Look Compound turn-in, which is where the trail to Holland Falls starts. Holland Lake is at 4,100 feet and lies on the western edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, and the trailhead here is one of the most popular for entering the Wilderness Area.
There is a $5 day use fee per vehicle, and this includes use of the boat launch (which is one of the more lackluster in the area). We prefer human powered water sports: SUP, canoe, swimming in the roped area. Motor boats are allowed on Holland Lake.
Fishing at Holland Lake is best during the week, as it gets ample pressure on the weekends. Fishing can be excellent for rainbow trout, cutthroats, and whitefish. There are Kokanee salmon and bull trout in Holland Lake. Shore fishing is not ideal given the size of the lake and the private property surrounding it.
Holland Lake covers 416 acres offers incredible views of the Swan Range. 10,000 years ago the Ice Age abruptly ended when the climate warmed. Within 3000 years, the mass of ice that once filled the Swan Valley disappeared, leaving only sediments which formed the valley floor. The last glacial lobes of ice left high moraines around their edges that now surround Holland Lake and nearby Lindbergh Lake, as with quite a few other lakes in the Missions and Swan ranges.
The Hike to Holland Falls
The trail to Holland Falls is 1.6 miles one-way. Marked TR 416, at mile one the trail begins a climb up a steady grade, reaching a footbridge. Another 200 yards up the trail you will come to a rock outcropping, which is where you’ll also begin hearing the falls. The falls are only a short distance away. Total elevation gain is around 750 feet, and it takes most hikers about 40 minutes to reach the falls.
There is a longer hike available up to Upper Holland Lake, which is strenuous and about seven miles each way. The total elevation gain on that hike is 3,630 feet.
There are two loops, Bay Loop and Larch Loop, with a total of 40 campsites available at Holland Lake. The cost is $15 per campsite, with $5 per extra vehicle. Firewood is available for purchase. There is a lodge onsite, Holland Lake Lodge, which was originally built in 1924. The main lodge burned in 1946 and was rebuilt (before power was even brought to the valley in the 1950s). It’s a popular wedding venue and features a restaurant and bar. The meals at the restaurant are included for guests staying at the lodge, but it is open to the public as well, according to their website. Reservations are recommended for dinner.