Becker Lake- Beartooth Mountains
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.
Driving to the Island Lake trailhead, the scenery here is remarkable. High altitude lakes are so plentiful here, many are unnamed. The wildflowers and stunted trees offer scenery like no other- a sight that you truly have to see to appreciate. Leaving the trailhead at Island Lake, the trail meanders around the lake, offering great views of the surrounding landscape. This section of the trail is the flattest- in 2 miles of trail, the elevation gains only 96 feet. After an easy first mile, Night Lake appears.
Night Lake is only a couple dozen feet higher in elevation than Island Lake, and you might miss the transition between the two lakes. The trail leads around the western shore of Night Lake, and is just as flat as the trail around Island Lake. The hike would almost be boring at this point, were it not for the spectacular scenery. Hiking around Night Lake, the trail leads by several unnamed lakes, and allows a good view of nearby Flake Lake. At 2.6 miles, the trail makes the only turn- onto the Becker Lake trail.
From the short trail off to the right, the trail to Becker Lake begins. This turn is easy to spot, for an unofficial trail. The footsteps of thousands of hikers before you have worn this turn into the earth, making it extremely hard to miss. Turning right here, the trail immediately leads to a lightning scarred tree, and then becomes just as well worn as the main trail. Following it, you head toward Mutt and Jeff Lakes.
Mutt is on the right, and Jeff is on the left- these two lakes seem almost the same. A short stream that is less than a hundred feet long separates the two lakes. Hopping across the large rocks in this stream is trivial, and is as easy as the rockfield up ahead. This rockfield presents no challenge whatsoever for you- after a few quick boulder hops, the trail leads to a hill- the only one in this hike.
This easy hill gains very little elevation, and leads above Becker Lake. Although the trail doesn’t offer any views of Becker Lake at this point, the trail continues downward towards the lake. After a short time, the first glimpse of Becker Lake is seen, as the trail continues downhill. Eventually, and after a mile, the trail leads down to the inlet stream at Becker Lake.
From here, the many open meadows at Becker Lake offer excellent campsites, the mix of brook and cutthroat trout will entertain any angler, and Albino Lake up above offers additional hiking. Whether if you hike to Becker Lake on a day hike, or backpack overnight, keep the lake pristine. Since it receives heavy use, no trace practices are the best way to preserve such a fragile place.
Directions to the Trailhead
From Highway 212 outside of Red Lodge, drive 36 miles to the turn for the Island Lake campground. Drive down this gravel road, and turn right to the large trailhead. From there, hike down towards the Island Lake boat ramp, and onto the Island Lake trail.