Easy Day Hikes

Beauty Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Beauty Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Beauty Lake, WY

Located in Wyoming, Beauty Lake is a popular summer day hike, for many good reasons. Beauty Lake is well named, the gorgeous scenery from the surrounding hills is reflected on its surface; leaving you to wonder if you are looking at a lake, or a mirror. The lake is below timberline, but only just barely- leaving you with shade in the afternoon, while offering alpine vistas as well. Nearby Crane Lake offers similar views, with perhaps less visitor traffic. Both lakes are easily accessible from the Beartooth Lake Trailhead, with the total elevation gain little more than 500 feet in the short 2.4 miles to Beauty Lake.

You’ll want to have your camera handy along this trail, given the many scenic opportunities that lie along it. Immediately starting from the trail you’ll pass Beartooth Butte, an outcrop that rises more than 1,500 feet above Beartooth Lake. Further down the trail, you’ll pass Crane Lake, a beautiful lake in itself. Finally, you will arrive at Beauty Lake.  You’ll appreciate the appropriate name of the lake, as you hike along its shore. 

Continue reading “Beauty Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

18 Sep 2015

Timberline Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Timberline Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Timberline Lake

Timberline Lake is an alpine lake nestled beneath the Silver Run Plateau, located within minutes of Red Lodge. Scenic vistas surround the lake, leading you to wonder which is more beautiful- the surrounding rock and snow, or the lake itself. The lake has a beautiful turquoise hue, resulting from glacial melt above Timberline Lake. Snowfields, the remains of these glaciers, feed the lake today via Timberline Creek.

Timberline Creek is crossed a couple of times on this hike, although the first two miles of the trail are dry. The trail to Timberline Lake climbs about 2,000 feet in 4.5 miles, making it a relatively steep trail. Thankfully, the grade is only noticeably steep for the first couple miles.

Continue reading “Timberline Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

23 Aug 2015

Quinnebaugh Meadows- Beartooth Mountains

Quinnebaugh Meadows- Beartooth Mountains

Quinnebaugh Meadows

Quinnebaugh Meadows is a gorgeous mountain meadow that is surrounded by spectacular views of the Silver Run Plateau, and nearby Whitetail Peak. Wildflowers blanket the meadows, and line the trail all the way to Quinnebaugh Meadows. Nearby Rock Creek thunders down two waterfalls along the trail, with side trails leading to both falls. Once you reach the meadows, the number of people that you passed on the trail all seem to disappear- the meadows are so expansive that they easily swallow large and small parties alike.

Hiking to the meadows is rather straightforward, as the trail gains only 1,000 feet in 5 miles. The trail itself is well built, well maintained, and well traveled. You can expect to see company on this trail, but that won’t bother you much once you reach Quinnebaugh Meadows. There are also no turns on this trail, other than a left turn at the trailhead.

Continue reading “Quinnebaugh Meadows- Beartooth Mountains” »

04 Aug 2015

Lava Lake- Spanish Peaks

Lava Lake

Lava Lake, located in the Spanish Peaks section of the Madison Range

It’s hard to find a good mountain lake that is close to a city, but yet is still surrounded by untouched wilderness. Lava Lake is located just minutes from Bozeman, but is still a scenic destination in the wilderness. Although the traffic on the trail is heavy (expect plenty of company on the trail), the condition of the trail has been kept clean by the forest service- and it shows. On a typical summer day, 30+ parties are not uncommon. The large nearby parking lot ensures that unless you hike this trail in February, you can expect to bump into quite a few people on this trail. However, the fishing and beautiful scenery more than make up for the busy trail. The trail is rather straightforward as well, although it is uphill all the way.

The trail to Lava Lake gains 1600 feet in 3 miles, making it a short but strenuous hike. I’ve rated it as easy, but the trail is really somewhere between easy and moderate, given the steep grade. That being said, the trail does have a few straight runs, and offers plenty of scenic spots to take a break at. The biggest challenge of this hike isn’t the trail, but instead finding somewhere to park.

Continue reading “Lava Lake- Spanish Peaks” »

31 Jul 2015

Basin Creek Lakes- Beartooth Mountains

Basin Creek Lakes- Beartooth Mountains

Upper Basin Creek Lake

Upper Basin Creek Lake

Nestled under the scenic Silver Run Plateau lies one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Beartooths- Upper Basin Creek Lake. Although the trail gains more than 2,000 feet in the short 4 miles to Upper Basin Creek Lake, that doesn’t stop hundreds of hikers from enjoying this trail. In fact, this trail’s popularity led the forest service to designate it a National Recreational Trail. The traffic won’t keep you from enjoying the two lakes on this trail however, as this trail does an impressive job of splitting the traffic between Upper and Lower Basin Lakes.

Continue reading “Basin Creek Lakes- Beartooth Mountains” »

14 Jul 2015

Calamity and Sentinel Falls- Beartooth Mountains

Calamity and Sentinel Falls- Beartooth Mountains

Calamity Falls

If you’re looking for a short day hike that allows you to see two spectacular waterfalls, look no further than Calamity Falls and Sentinel Falls. These two waterfalls are located a short distance from Red Lodge, making them a perfect short day hike. This hike is only 3.6 miles long, and gains only 511 feet, making it a good first wilderness hike for young hikers. The trail begins on the north side of the trailhead parking lot, which is clearly marked.

This is a well maintained trail, which you will notice immediately as you head down the trail. This trail is very popular in the Red Lodge area, and many boots have worn a nice trail. Try and do a good deed here, and pick up any trash that you might see on the trail. Although this trail is well groomed, it’s heavy use makes cleanup harder for the forest service. It only takes a little garbage to ruin the pristine appearance of the wilderness, which is reached after the first quarter mile of the trail.

Continue reading “Calamity and Sentinel Falls- Beartooth Mountains” »

01 Jul 2015

Rock Island Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Rock Island Lake

Rock Island Lake

Located near Cooke City on the famous Beartooth Highway, Rock Island Lake is an excellent choice for a day hike, or relaxed fishing in the wilderness. The hike is relatively short (6 miles round trip), on a trail that is mostly level (only gaining 270 feet at it’s highest point). The hike to Rock Island Lake also offers an excellent opportunity to view wildlife such as moose and deer. The trail is easy to follow, as long as you pay attention to the signs along the trail.

Continue reading “Rock Island Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

08 Jun 2015

Kersey Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Kersey Lake

Kersey Lake

You will rarely find a lake that offers fishing, good wildlife viewing opportunities, and is close to a major highway. Kersey Lake, located near Cooke City, Montana, is a relaxed day hike with the all of these features. The hike is an easy hike (3 miles round trip), and gains less than 200 feet of elevation. This makes the hike a perfect first hike for small children, or a quick hike for travellers passing through the area. The road to the trailhead is paved, so any motor vehicle can make the drive- something that is rare for a lake next to the Beartooth Absaroka Wilderness.

Driving to the trailhead can be considered an adventure itself. Whether if you are headed from Red Lodge, Yellowstone National Park, or Cody, you will pass trout filled lakes along the way, scenic alpine vistas, and glacier fed streams. Access to the trailhead is possible most of the time from late May to early October, but it is always best to check the Montana Road Conditions Map before you head out. The well signed Clarks Fork Trailhead is located 58.1 miles from Red Lodge, or 3.4 miles from Cooke City, on US 212.

Continue reading “Kersey Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

06 Jun 2015

Passage Falls- Absaroka Range

Passage Falls

Passage Falls

Passage Falls

Standing beneath the falls, a whirlwind of mist covers you. The mist clings to anything that isn’t already wet, and the roar of the falls deafens you. Looking up, it’s hard to imagine how many hundreds of gallons of water are pouring over the falls, or how this waterfall managed to drastically change the volcanic outcrops that you cling to. Passage Creek beneath the falls becomes a torrent, as the water rushes out of the narrow valley. This place is Passage Falls, a popular hiking destination in the Absaroka Range, and a great place for a short day hike.

Located South of Livingston, Passage Falls is an easy to find hike that offers a spectacular waterfall. The short length (4.2 miles), easy to follow trail, and low gain in elevation (490 ft) makes Passage Falls an excellent hike for hikers of any level. Although this is an excellent trail most of the year, the best times to visit are between mid-May and mid-June, when the water levels are at their highest. In addition, the trail is quite busy later in the summer, so spring tends to be my preferred season for hiking this short trail.

Continue reading “Passage Falls- Absaroka Range” »

26 May 2015

Glacier Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Glacier Lake

Glacier Lake



Glacier Lake offers an afternoon of fishing, hiking, and photography.  Located close to Red Lodge, Glacier Lake is also an extremely popular lake- so expect some company on the trail.  The trail is short (but steep), the scenery beautiful, and the trout willing.  Thankfully, the road to the trailhead (forest service road 421) helps limit the traffic on the trail.  To be sure, your car will take more abuse on the ride to the trailhead, than you will on the trail itself.

If your truck or SUV can handle the road, you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to hike to four different lakes in the basin.  Anglers will love the fishing opportunities in these lakes.  Climbers will love the seemingly endless supply of boulders, spires, and peaks to climb.  Photographers will enjoy the stunning scenery.  All of these lakes are located near each other, so this makes for a great day of exploring an alpine paradise.
Continue reading “Glacier Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

01 Feb 2015

West Boulder Meadows- Absaroka Range

West Boulder Meadows- Absaroka Range

Boulder Meadows

Boulder Meadows

Located south of Big Timber, the north end of the Absaroka Range is best described as a typical western mountain range.  Instead of the numerous lakes, and tall, jagged peaks of the Beartooth Mountains; the northern end of the Absaroka Range’s peaks are much lower in elevation, and few lakes are present.  The lakes that have formed in this part of the Absaroka Range are usually high elevation lakes, and usually involve quite the hike to reach.  For these reasons, most anglers and hikers in the Absaroka Range tend to hike and fish near streams and rivers.  A popular destination in all seasons, the West Boulder Meadows is an excellent choice for hiking, snowshoeing, wildlife photography, climbing, or fishing- whatever suits your fancy.
Continue reading “West Boulder Meadows- Absaroka Range” »

22 Jun 2014

Blackmore Lake- Gallatin Range

Blackmore Lake

Blackmore Lake, as seen from the North side of the lake.

Blackmore Lake, as seen from the North side of the lake.

Blackmore lake is an easy, albeit mostly uphill, hike located near scenic Bozeman, Montana.  Located just 30 minutes outside of town, Blackmore Lake is a beautiful lake back dropped by a jagged peak.  Although Blackmore Lake has little to offer fishermen, it does offer the opportunity to observe wildlife, and rockhound.

Continue reading “Blackmore Lake- Gallatin Range” »

18 Jun 2014

Lady of the Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Lady of the Lake

Lady  of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

An easy day hike in the Beartooth Mountains, Lady of the Lake is a great hike for small children or beginners.  The trail climbs very little elevation (the high point in the trail is only a few hundred feet above the trailhead), and the lake rests at nearly the same altitude as the trailhead.  Despite the short length, this trail has a couple of small creek crossings, so make sure that you are wearing a good pair of boots.

Continue reading “Lady of the Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

07 Feb 2014

Woodbine Falls- Beartooth Mountains

Woodbine Falls- Beartooth Mountains

Woodbine Falls

Woodbine Falls

Woodbine Falls is a fun hike for everyone!  It’s short length, low elevation gain, and well engineered trail all help to make this one of the most popular day hikes for small kids, elderly, and beginner hikers.  At .8 miles one way (1.6 miles out and back) and an elevation gain of only a couple hundred feet, it’s easy to see why this hike is so popular.  This hike is also rare in that it is relatively low (5,300 feet), so it is clear of snow early in the year.  Because of this, you can usually enjoy this trail from May until November.

Continue reading “Woodbine Falls- Beartooth Mountains” »

27 Jan 2014

Sioux Charley Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Sioux Charley Lake

Siox Charlie Lake

Sioux Charley Lake

If you’re looking for a nice lake to hike with the family to, it’s hard to beat Sioux Charley Lake.  Gaining a little under 600 feet over the course of three miles, the trail is relatively flat, and easy for children to hike.  Add in the low elevation (Sioux Charlie Lake is at 5,651 feet), and it’s easy to see why this lake is a popular early season hike. Continue reading “Sioux Charley Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

13 Jan 2014

Lost Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Lost Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Lost Lake

Lost Lake

The Lake Fork of Rock Creek offers beautiful waterfalls, gorgeous scenery, abundant wildlife, and pristine mountain lakes.  Lost Lake is no exception to this, and is the first lake along the Lake Fork of Rock Creek that I recommend exploring.  Lost Lake is an excellent day hike, which offers a little of something for everyone.  Although the hike is a little long for a day hike, the trail is rather flat (gaining 1,300 feet in 5 miles), and it is easy to make very good time on this trail.

Starting at the large trailhead parking lot (it’s hard to fill this lot), the trail winds it’s way through mature stands of Lodgepole Pine and Aspen trees.  The trail itself is professionally built, and that makes a huge difference in speed on this trail.  The packed dirt, rocks, and wooden beams all add to the structure of this trail, and make this trail such a pleasure to hike.  Make sure to keep a sharp eye out though, this trail is full of surprises! Continue reading “Lost Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

07 Jan 2014

Island Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Island Lake

Island Lake

Island Lake


Island Lake offers the ability to sit back and relax, on one of the busiest trails in the Beartooths. Although many hikers each year start this trail, very few hikers make it as far down the trail as Island Lake. The lake itself is beautiful- a description used commonly in the Beartooth Mountains.
Continue reading “Island Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

03 Jan 2014

Rimrock Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Rimrock Lake

Rimrock Lake

Rimrock Lake is the second lake along The Beaten Path, a 26 mile hike through the heart of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. At six miles from the trailhead, the lake is a good day hike for moderate hikers, or a good day trip for beginner hikers camped at Elk Lake. The lake itself is gorgeous, with a waterfall at the inlet, and a sturdy bridge at the outlet. Continue reading “Rimrock Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

03 Jan 2014

Elk Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Elk Lake

Elk Lake

Rising from the sleepy vacation homes in Alpine, Montana, the trail to Elk Lake is a beautiful hike that is sure to impress all.  Surrounded by jagged peaks and rough canyon walls, the area is breathtaking to say the least.  Starting at the trailhead, the trail follows the East Rosebud Creek for three miles.  During this hike, there are no large hills to cross, no tiresome switchbacks, and the trail is kept in immaculate condition.  As expected on any easy day hike, the traffic on the trail is high, particularly in Summer.  In the Winter, however, you can easily have the valley to yourself. Continue reading “Elk Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

31 Dec 2013

Mystic Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Mystic Lake

Mystic Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Mystic Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Nowhere else in the Beartooths offers the unique opportunity to see a hydroelectric dam in action, while at the same time enjoying the surrounding wilderness.  Although the lake itself is not within the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, most of the trail and surrounding area is.  That won’t stop you from enjoying Mystic Lake, the power company that controls the dam has had very little impact to the lake itself.  Other than the dam, and a small house by the dam, the lake is in the same condition that Mother Nature left it (albeit a little bigger). Continue reading “Mystic Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

31 Dec 2013