Tag Archives: Moderate Day Hikes

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

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

Thompson Lake- Absaroka Range

Thompson Lake- Absaroka Range

Thompson Lake

Thompson Lake, located in the Absaroka Range, offers something for everyone; cutthroat trout swim beneath the lake’s surface, deer and bears are commonly seen, the mature forest makes for great camping, and the trail to Thompson Lake is a relatively easy hike. The trail is a short 5 miles, and only gains 1,200 feet in elevation. This barely qualifies it as a “Moderate” hike, and the only reason it should be a “Moderate” hike is due to the number of hills and obstacles on the trail.

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20 Oct 2015

Lake Mary- Beartooth Mountains

Lake Mary- Beartooth Mountains

Lake Mary

Lake Mary is an alpine lake bordered by two high mountain plateaus- The East Rosebud Plateau rising from the west, and the Red Lodge Creek Plateau rising from the east. These two plateaus give Lake Mary  a “top of the world” appearance, which is aided by the scenic trail to Lake Mary. At 9,960 feet, Lake Mary certainly isn’t the top of the world, but it will feel like it on this hike. Fortunately, most of the hike won’t make you feel like you’re climbing to the top of the world.

This hike covers 6 miles, gaining a little over 2,000 feet in elevation. Hikers can expect to spend half their hike on the first 5 miles, and half their hike on the last mile to Lake Mary. From Quinnebaugh Meadows to Lake Mary, you will climb 1,200 feet in just 1 mile. A light pack is recommended, unless you enjoy fighting gravity.

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10 Aug 2015

Silver Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Silver Lake

Silver Lake

Silver Lake

There are some hikes where the trail itself is more interesting than the destination.  Silver Lake is much like that- the official trail ends 2.5 miles from the lake, and the rest of the trail is maintained only by hikers such as yourself.  This trail leads through a remote section of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, while passing two popular lakes along the way.

This hike has something for everyone- fishing, wildlife photography opportunities, and swimming (some of it non-intentional). It also offers the opportunity to lose the trail in several places, one of my favorite features of this trail. This trail is easy to follow for the first six miles, but the remaining 2.5 miles are anything but easy.

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13 Jul 2015

Princess Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Princess Lake

Princess Lake

Princess Lake

It’s a rare experience to hike on one of the busiest trails in the Beartooth Mountains, and hike in solitude for the last two miles of the trail. Princess Lake is a beautiful mountain lake located in the West Rosebud section of the Beartooth Mountains, and it’s just two miles from Mystic Lake– arguably one of the most popular day hike destinations in the Beartooth Mountains. The last two miles of the trail to Princess Lake are anything but busy, however. In the early or late season, you could easily have the lake to yourself. The trail to Princess Lake is what keeps most hikers away- the steep grade and faint track are not for inexperienced hikers.

This trail has a little something for everyone- rock fields, uphill switchbacks, flat runs, mature lodgepole pine forests, and good fishing. It also offers the opportunity to be lost in the woods, one of my favorite parts of this trail. The trail is well defined for the first six miles, but after that I’d recommend bringing along a GPS- just in case.

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08 Jul 2015

Curl Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Curl Lake

Curl Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Curl Lake

Curl Lake, located in the Beartooth Mountains, is an interesting lake. Curl Lake blurs the definition between lake and river (it’s neighbor Broadwater Lake is technically the same lake), and the trail is an adventure in itself. The trail passes by two major bodies of water (Kersey Lake and Broadwater Meadow Lakes), making it a messy swamp early in the year. A couple of months later (mid summer), the mosquitoes are out in full force- making Curl Lake a good late summer hike. Curl Lake does make up for this by providing fishing, and an absolutely gorgeous view.

When preparing for this hike, a map/compass or GPS should be considered required gear. The trail is hard to find in places, and while route finding is very easy on this trail, the hiking is easier if you stay on the trail. Losing the trail early on can mean navigating around wet marshes, tall hills, and steep cliffs. It’s much easier to carry a compass/GPS, and avoid losing the trail entirely.

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06 Jul 2015

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

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