Hiking Trails in the Beartooth Mountains

Hikes in the Beartooth Mountains, and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. This page lists the latest hikes added, or you can use the map on the main page to find areas to hike.

Fox Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Fox Lake

Fox Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Fox Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Fox Lake, located in the Beartooth Mountains, is suitable for a day hike, an overnight stay, or a base camp. Located just 4 miles from the trailhead, Fox Lake is a quick hike for conditioned hikers. In the mid season (July), the busy trail is easy to follow, and well marked. This may not be true in the early season (early June), where traffic is almost nonexistent, the trail is harder to follow, and snow drifts still block the trail in many places.

Regardless of when you hike to Fox Lake, you’ll want to bring proper protection against bears. Grizzly bears are common in the area, as are moose. You’ll want to be prepared for this with either bear spray, or a suitable alternative. This area (Cooke City) is notorious for bear attacks, and this trail will lead you 4 miles into bear country. When you drive to the trailhead, you’ll be reminded of this fact. Campgrounds in the area do not allow tent camping because of bear attacks, and many signs along the highway will remind you to properly store your food when camping.

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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.

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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.

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06 Jun 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.
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01 Feb 2015

Huckleberry Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Huckleberry Lake

Huckleberry Lake

If the trail at Mystic Lake isn’t remote enough for you, you only have to hike an extra mile to Huckleberry Lake for a better chance at solitude. Even though Huckleberry Lake is only 7 miles from the West Rosebud trailhead, it is not visited nearly as much as Mystic Lake and nearby Island Lake. You might ask, “Why is this?”. The simple answer is that Huckleberry Lake is not particularly easy to find, it isn’t on an official trail, and it’s not really popular. That being said, it is an absolute must-see in the Beartooth Mountains- the narrow canyon walls combined with the nearby mature forest leaves an impression that you soon won’t forget. The fishing usually won’t disappoint, either.

Another attraction to Huckleberry Lake is that it is on the way to other destinations up the valley including Princess Lake, Avalanche Lake, and Granite Peak (a popular climbing destination, and Montana’s highest mountain). Oh- did I mention that the fishing was good? Well, enough about why you should visit Huckleberry Lake- let’s tackle the hike itself.
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28 Jan 2015

Crow Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Crow Lake

Crow Lake

There are few places that truly take your breath away; few places that absolutely leave you unable to describe their awesome beauty. Crow Lake, located at the mouth of a glacier carved cirque, is certainly one of those places. If the blue-green waters, dense lodgepole forests, and jagged granite spires of the East Rosebud Plateau don’t take your breath away, the hike there certainly will. The 6 miles of trail to Crow Lake climb more than 2,700 feet, most of which is in the first few miles.

Although this trail presents a few difficulties, finding the trailhead is not one of them. Start off by entering the East Rosebud campground, and drive all the way to the northwestern corner (far back) of the campground, parking in the well marked trailhead parking lot. You can easily tell that this trail is going to be steep at this point- even the trailhead itself is on a hill! Continue reading “Crow Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

25 Jan 2015

Sylvan Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake

Shimmering beneath Sylvan Lake lies the prize most anglers and hikers seek- the California Golden Trout. First stocked in 1938, the golden trout at Sylvan Lake are well known in Montana for their genetic purity. Sylvan Lake’s golden population is so pure that the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks regularly uses the eggs laid by goldens at Sylvan Lake for stocking other lakes in Montana. If you seek the purest golden trout in the Beartooths, you should look no further than Sylvan Lake.

Although this trail presents a few difficulties, finding the trailhead is not one of them. Start off by entering the East Rosebud campground, and drive all the way to the northwestern corner (far back) of the campground, parking in the well marked trailhead parking lot. You can easily tell that this trail is going to be steep at this point- even the trailhead itself is on a hill! Continue reading “Sylvan Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

24 Jan 2015

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.

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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.

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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

Rainbow Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Rainbow Lake

Rainbow Lake

Rainbow Lake is the third lake along The Beaten Path, a 26 mile hike through the heart of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. At seven miles from the trailhead (technically about eight miles), the lake is a good day hike for strong hikers, or a good day trip for moderate hikers camped at Elk Lake. The lake is absolutely stunning- a jewel nestled in the mountains, fed by a gorgeous waterfall.  The fishing here is also excellent, with an abundant amount of Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout. Rainbow Lake- Beartooth Mountains

11 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.
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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