Canoe Trail: Clearwater River to Seeley Lake Ranger Station

Activity Details

From Missoula:56.7 Miles
Activity Type(s): Day Floats
Length (1-way):3 Miles


Clearwater River Canoe Trail is a 1 to 2 hour canoe trip that flows through a dense willow marsh on an isolated portion of the Clearwater River. This is one of the most popular 'trails' in the Seeley Lake Ranger District.

The 3 and 1/2 mile distance can be canoed at a leisurely pace in about 2 hours.  The float offers an outstanding opportunity to view warblers, nesting common loons, bitterns, catbirds, snipes, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, and common goldeneyes. Western painted turtles, large trout, muskrats, beavers, and dragonflies are common.  The last part of the trip crosses the north end of Seeley Lake. A 30-minute return-hiking trail winds by the river and wetlands, eliminating shuttle problems and providing viewing access for non-floaters. On the trail, be sure to stop at the wildlife viewing blind, which allows great close-up views of waterfowl, yellow-headed blackbirds, sandhill cranes, and marsh-loving songbirds. Brochures about the canoe trail are available at the Seeley Lake Ranger Station.

There is parking at the trailhead for approximately 6 vehicles and an outdoor toilet is also provided. There is no drinking water available. Visitors are reminded to practice 'Leave No Trace' techniques while canoeing, hiking and picnicking in the area.


From Missoula take I90 to Bonner exit and head NE on Highway 200, Turn left at Clearwater Junction (the big cow) and continue on to the town of Seeley Lake. From Seeley Lake, drive 4 miles north on Montana Highway 83. Turn west at the Clearwater Canoe Trail sign and proceed 0.5 mile to the put-in. The canoe take-out and start of the return trail are at the Seeley Lake Ranger Station.