Cliff and Wade Lakes sit on a geologic fault that formed a chasm that filled with water; cliffs surround much of the lakes' shorelines. Cliff Lake is the larger and somewhat more isolated of the two. Wade Lake is more easily accessible and receives more use; it's spring-fed and stays partly ice-free in the winter. Both lakes support many nesting raptors. Look for prairie falcons, bald eagles, and osprey. Do not approach or disturb nesting birds. Waterfowl and beavers are common on both lakes. In winter, Wade Lake is a good place to see river otters and occasionally trumpeter swans. Larger mammals frequently seen include elk, deer, and moose, which are even more numerous and visible in the winter. Cliff Lake offers some exceptional canoeing, especially in the remote coves; canoes and lodging available at Wade Lake Resort (406) 682-7560. Hikers can learn something of the flora, fauna, and geology of the area on a 0.7 mile interpretive trail connecting the Wade Lake and Hilltop campgrounds. A newly developed spawning channel is an excellent place to view rainbow trout. The lakes also can be a great place for cross-country skiing in the winter.
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