Author Archives: chris

Little Elk Creek Trail- Black Hills

Little Elk Creek Trail- Black Hills

Little Elk Creek Trail

Conveniently located just 20 minutes from Rapid City, South Dakota, Little Elk Creek Trail offers the ability to quickly hop on a scenic trail, and start exploring the woods. This easy trail is a quick detour from I-90, and is close enough to Rapid City for a quick walk in the woods after work. Little Elk Creek Trail is 6 miles long, and gains only 500 feet in the first three miles, making it an easy trail for kids and older adults. Mountain bikers will enjoy the easy trail grade, and will especially appreciate the few boulders on the trail. If you’ve got a few hours to spare, head towards interstate exit 44, and the Black Hills.

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22 Oct 2016

Rattlesnake Gulch Trail- Front Range

Rattlesnake Gulch Trail- Front Range

Rattlesnake Gulch Trail

The Rattlesnake Gulch Trail is a quick 3 ½ mile hike through some of the most scenic views in Eldorado Canyon. This trail is full of natural beauty, with sheer quartzite and granite cliffs surrounding the hike, and vistas of distant mountain peaks. The trailhead is also close to Denver International Airport, making it a convenient detour for travelers in the area. Finding the trailhead is easy, although it does involve a fee; the Eldorado Canyon Park requires a $8 charge for those wishing to hike or climb in the canyon. That shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, however.

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23 Sep 2016

Becker Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Becker Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Becker Lake

For a quick hike to a beautiful mountain lake that’s near Cooke City, there’s no better place than Becker Lake. The trail to Becker Lake is a bit lengthy at 9 miles, but the flat trail and numerous nearby lakes will work hard to help you overlook the distance. These 9 miles are also the flattest in the Beartooth Mountains, making the hike to Becker Lake a perfect hike for kids, and older adults. As such, you can expect to see other hikers on this trail. Thankfully, a few extra hikers won’t detract from the alpine beauty of this hike.

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27 Aug 2016

Echo Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Echo Lake

Echo Lake

Echo Lake is a picturesque mountain lake that is just off The Beaten Path, a common hiking trail in the Beartooth Mountains. While Echo Lake is located only a mile from this popular trail, hundreds of hikers pass by it on the way to nearby Duggan Lake, or Big Park Lake. Echo Lake does offer something that these other two lakes don’t: the chance for solitude. The hike there is easy enough, the trail is well established, there are plenty of campsites, and the fishing is good. To put it simply, there are plenty of reasons why you should visit Echo Lake. You can reach Echo Lake via the Clarks Fork Trailhead or the East Rosebud Trailhead, both of which offer some of the best scenery in the Beartooth Mountains.

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07 Aug 2016

The Beaten Path- Beartooth Mountains

The Beaten Path- Beartooth Mountains

Scenery Along The Beaten Path

The Beaten Path is the name given to a route that runs 26 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Beartooth Mountains. The Beaten Path leads by cascading waterfalls, alpine lakes, towering peaks, and lush forests. The fishing is also excellent on this trip, with many of the lakes stocked with hungry rainbow and cutthroat trout. The first obstacle with this hike is figuring out the logistics- this hike can be hiked two different ways, and both ways require special transportation considerations.

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27 Jul 2016

Margaret Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Margaret Lake

Margaret Lake

If you’re seeking a lake less than 3 miles from a popular trailhead, while at the same time looking for isolation from others, look no further than Margaret Lake. Although the trail isn’t as easy to follow as others (the last quarter mile is hard to follow at times), the fishing and solitude more than make up for the quarter mile of stumbling though brush. Located just a few minutes from Cooke City, you’ll pass many hikers on the way into Margaret Lake, but you’ll be almost guaranteed solitude once you arrive at the lake. This trail does lead through an area that is notorious for its bear population, so be sure that you know how to safely hike in bear country, before you leave the trailhead. This hike starts from the busy Clarks Fork Trailhead, easily accessible from Highway 212.

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19 Jul 2016

Vernon Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Vernon Lake

Vernon Lake

Located just 2 ½ miles from the Clarks Fork trailhead, Vernon Lake is a perfect day hike for travelers on their way to Cooke City, or Yellowstone National Park. The trail gains very little elevation, and offers the opportunity to see wildlife such as deer, moose, and yes- bears. Finding the trailhead is incredibly easy, since it is both well signed, and next to Highway 212. Although you’ll pass many hikers on the first mile of this hike, once you turn onto the Vernon Lake trail, the traffic diminishes greatly. Another feature of this trail is a side trip to the Flume Trail at the beginning of the hike, which offers an educational opportunity about the now-defunct hydroelectric dam that was built in 1916. This “trail” is wheelchair accessible, while of course the hike to Vernon Lake is not.

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11 Jul 2016

Avalanche Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Avalanche Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake lies beneath Montana’s highest mountain, Granite Peak, and is fed by melting snow and ice from Granite Glacier, giving the lake a beautiful teal color. What sets Avalanche Lake apart from the many lakes in the area isn’t its beauty, or its population of cutthroat trout, but the towering mass of rock above it- Granite Peak. Each year, hundreds of climbers tackle Granite Peak, usually with success. Although most climbers prefer to use the Froze to Death Plateau route, the Avalanche Lake route offers the best scenery and fishing. If you’re looking for a challenging route to Granite Peak, or for excellent fishing, Avalanche Lake will not disappoint.

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30 Jun 2016

Easy Day Hikes in the Beartooth Mountains

Easy Day Hikes in the Beartooth Mountains

The Beartooth Mountains in early June

If you’re looking for a quick hike in the wilderness, the Beartooth Mountains have much to offer. Located near the busy towns of Billings, Red Lodge, and Cooke City, the Beartooth Mountains are a popular destination for day hikers that want to only spend only a few hours in the wild. For those hikers, here is a short list of popular day hikes- most within the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

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19 Jun 2016

Safely Hiking and Backpacking in Bear Country

Hiking in Bear Country

For some, hiking or backpacking in bear country is a truly terrifying experience. Hiking down a trail in the wilderness has its hazards, and bears can certainly be one of those hazards. Camping in bear country is even more dangerous- extra precautions need to be taken to prevent an attack at night, and to keep food scents out of your tent. Knowing how to safely hike or backpack in bear country can prevent a bear attack, and save your life.

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08 Jun 2016

Meyers Creek Trail- Beartooth Mountains

Meyers Creek Trail

Meyers Creek Trail

Meyers Creek Trail #27 offers a chance to enjoy the outdoors on a well established trail, without the crowds. This trail is great for any hiker’s skill level, or physical condition. Rockhounds will be satisfied with the fossils and metamorphic rocks that are easily found on the trail, and hunters will find no shortage of wild game. For some, the trailhead is scenic enough, but to fully appreciate the trail, you’ll want to stretch your legs.

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01 Jun 2016

East Fork Boulder River- Absaroka Range

East Fork Boulder River- Absaroka Range

East Fork Boulder River

South of McLeod, MT, lies the East Fork Boulder River, a popular trail that leads to less than popular destinations. The trail runs 3.5 miles to the bridge over the East Fork Boulder River, where many hikers choose to fish, camp, or hike onward to the Lake Plateau. The camping at the East Fork Boulder River is excellent, with both firewood and trout in large supply. For a novice backpacker, the low elevation gained on this hike make it a good choice. In fact, the hardest part of this hike might be driving to the trailhead itself.

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08 May 2016

Ouzel Falls- Madison Range

Ouzel Falls

Ouzel Falls

Ouzel Falls, located in Big Sky, Montana, offers the opportunity for a quick hike to a scenic waterfall. The South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River (which is a mouthful, to say the least) plunges over the falls, on its way to the Gallatin River. Ouzel Falls is located just .75 miles from the trailhead, making it a short hike after a long day of skiing, or an attractive detour on the way to Yellowstone. The low grade of the trail is easy for most hikers, although there are many side trips along the way if you want to stretch your calves. In winter, the trail to the falls, and the falls themselves, are the most scenic.

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01 May 2016

Planning a Backpacking Trip

Planning a Backpacking Trip

Planning a backpacking trip takes time, but the rewards are worth it.

Planning a backpacking trip is the least exciting part of backpacking. Figuring out where to go, what gear to carry, what to eat, and transportation is the backpacking equivalent to working in an accounting office. However, as an accountant is invaluable to the company that he or she works for, proper planning of a backpacking trip is equally important. Not to sound over-dramatic, but planning a backpacking trip properly can literally mean the difference between life and death. You can survive without food for weeks or drink contaminated water for days, but if you plan a trip poorly, you can die within hours.

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10 Apr 2016

Cottonwood Road BLM- Pryor Mountains

Cottonwood Road BLM

Cottonwood Road BLM

Most people think of a beautiful lake or a scenic alpine view, when they think of hiking. They imagine a beautiful drive to the trailhead, where they might see a cascade of water rushing down the valley, or evergreen forests that surround the road. Most people overlook the Cottonwood Road area, which is equally beautiful in its own right. Covered only with sagebrush and a few juniper trees, Cottonwood Road’s beauty is something you have to hike away from the road to appreciate.

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01 Apr 2016

Pine Creek Falls- Absaroka Range

Pine Creek Falls- Absaroka Range

Pine Creek Falls

Seventeen miles south of Livingston, MT lies the scenic and popular Pine Creek trail, leading to Pine Creek Falls. Pine Creek Falls itself is an easy hike, with no large hills or obstacles. This makes the hike a popular hike, so expect company along on the trail. Regardless of how many people you pass along this trail, this hike is beautiful any time of the year.

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23 Mar 2016

Weatherman Draw- Pryor Mountains

Weatherman Draw/Valley of the Chiefs

Weatherman Draw

Eighteen miles south of Bridger, MT lies an unusual hiking destination, called Weatherman Draw. At first, Weatherman Draw (also referred to as Valley of the Chiefs by many Native American tribes) seems lifeless and barren. Here there isn’t any flowing water, and only the occasional juniper tree provides shade. What does make Weatherman Draw an amazing hike has to do with the history of the Valley of the Chiefs, and the geological wonders of the area.

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18 Mar 2016

Slough Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Slough Lake

Slough Lake

Underneath Froze to Death Plateau, Phantom Creek slows to a standstill, creating a scenic marsh. Inside that marsh lies Slough Lake, a shallow 6 foot deep lake filled with brook trout, and an excellent destination for a day hike. Located just 2.5 miles from the trailhead, it’s a short hike to Slough Lake, albeit mostly uphill.

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23 Dec 2015

Froze to Death Plateau- Beartooth Mountains

Froze to Death Plateau

Froze to Death Plateau

There are few places on this planet that are truly named well. Covered with ice and snow 11 months out of the year, Froze to Death Plateau more than lives up so its name. At this plateau, snow is possible any time of the year, and the air conditioning is always on. If you hike up to this plateau, you’ll be rewarded by the scenery- the West Rosebud and Phantom Creek valleys are breathtaking, to say the least.

On the topic of breathtaking, the high altitude and steep trail make this hike a moderate hike. Weather at this altitude can also rapidly change, so be sure you are both in good shape, and prepared for the weather. With a name like Froze to Death Plateau, it goes without saying that you’ll want to carry a warm jacket, at least.

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14 Dec 2015

Hiking with Kids- Tips 6-10

Hiking with Kids- Tips 6-10

<–Click here to read Hiking with Kids- Tips 1-5, if you haven’t already.

Young kids can carry a few pounds- and every pound helps!

Young kids can carry a few pounds- and every pound helps!

6.) As a kid becomes more familiar with hiking, share the weight.

Kids like to help adults, let your child start helping out with carrying gear, when they are ready. That’s a tough decision- how do you know when your child is ready to start carrying a pack? For starters, the child shouldn’t have any weight the first couple of trips. If they’re young enough (younger than 9), you should be carrying all of their gear, with the exception of their water bottle. As the child grows older (and is more experienced with hiking), you’ll know the right time to start adding weight to their pack- they’ll ask for it. Kids love to help out, and as they grow older they’ll want to be increasingly more independent. They’ll thank you for the added responsibility, and your back will be thankful as well!

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10 Nov 2015