Upper Holland Loop

Key information: Upper Holland Loop

    • Demanding one day, or more relaxed two day, hike through the Flathead National Forest on the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
      • A steep ascent to the Sapphire Lakes with vast, beautiful views is followed by a more gentle descent alongside Holland Creek.
        • Campsites at Sapphire Lakes or further down, beside Upper Holland Lake, allow for an overnight hike.
          • Walking here can be tough, and given the lack of access roads you will often have to be self-sufficient. Come prepared to deal with any difficulties, and be aware of and sensible about wildlife and weather.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating82
  • Beauty33
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest0
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating82

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 1-2 days
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous


The Upper Holland Loop is technically not in the borders of the Bob; it runs from Holland Lake, near Condon, and skirts along the edge of the designated wilderness area. However, it is a major base for hikes and rides into the backcountry, and there are hopes that it will at some point be incorporated into the wilderness.

This circuit through the Flathead National Forest climbs to the beautiful Sapphire lakes, nestled in a basin below the Swan Range. The ascent follows steep switchbacks heading north-east from Holland Lake, with sweeping views of the Mission mountains. The return journey follows the undemanding progress of Holland Creek as it descends in gentle cascades and swirling rapids from Upper Holland Lake.

As a day walk, this is relatively demanding. However quiet, scenic campsites at Sapphire Lakes can make this a more relaxed two day hike, leaving time for an additional side trip to Necklace Lakes, just inside The Bob?s borders.

The area is generally free of snow by mid-June. If you are hiking counterclockwise, up the Holland Lake Trail, get an early start to avoid the fairly heavy horse and stock traffic. 

For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Bob Marshall Wilderness walk page.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.


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