Explore the most popular camping trails in Custer National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I am planning on hiking the trail the week of 4th of July. Any idea if there will be other hikers that week? Would be uncomfortable if we were the only hikers out on the trail. Wasn’t sure if that time of the year is still considered early. Comments please?

Pure beauty. The hike was hard for the first time for us, but the second was easier. The switchbacks are beautiful, yet tiring. Great for fishing. Highly recommend.

What a great hike with amazing views all around! We went May 8th and there was still some snow on the ground, but not too much to stop us. I was visiting from Philly and it was the most beautiful picturesque Montana day!

Road is closed from the camping ground to the trail head. Make sure you check online if it’s open before driving out, however it did not say it was closed for this weekend.

An easy going trail with incredible views, and we didn’t even make it to Elk lake! After fighting the snow for about a mile we decided to save it for another day when the snow had melted. Will definitely be back

Even though this one is rated easy, there were some spots that were tough for me. I will definitely try this one again being more physically fit, but it was worth every bit! Beautiful scenery and lake was breathtaking at the end!

hiking
2 months ago

The way up was so beautiful this summer. Amazing wild flowers. The trail got a bit rocky up top, so I think I’ll have to get some ankle support boots for next time!

backpacking
2 months ago

Looking for a party to exchange keys with, leaving from East Rosebud Lake heading to Cooke City from July 31 thru Aug 5 of 2018. If interested please contact Jim @ jkidwell9@cox.net.
Thanks

backpacking
3 months ago

This is one of my favorite backpacking trips. Not very difficult. I spent 3 days doing this out and back because it was so beautiful. Day 1, I drove to the Lake Ford Trailhead from Great Falls, MT and immediately hit the trail. I found this trail to be a steady up-hill most of the way. I ended up spending my first night at Keyser Brown lake, in a nice open meadow next to the lake. Day 2 I made the short trip up to September Morn lake and once again made camp for the night. After setting up camp, I took the switchback trail up to Sundance Pass. Amazing views...absolutely incredible. Pictures do not do this trip justice. That night, after returning to camp, a furious thunderstorm blew through. The thunder really booms and echos off the mountain walls surrounding September Morn...and the hail that came down was a sight to see. Day 3 I woke up early and started the hike back to the Lake Fork Trailhead...I believe it was just about 10 miles from September Morn. I encountered more hail on my way out. Overall, it was a great 3 day trip. I loved camping next to the lakes. The elevation wasn't too challenging. I'll upload some pictures from my trip. This is a PERFECT beginner backpacker trip. Highly recommend this.

Always a good hike while in Montana!!!!

backpacking
3 months ago

Looking for a party to exchange keys with at the trail heads of the Beaten Path in latter August of 2018. Contact Dennis @: dennisroach509@gmail.com

backpacking
3 months ago

We left "The Dead Indian Creek Trail", and stayed overnight in Cooke City. We then started on the Cooke City side. Parking was plenty. There is zero parking cost, part they are not responsible for any damage or theft to your vehicle. There is a picnic area here, along with a toilet. Beautiful waterfall, and neat history if you just wanted to see a roadside stop. We backpacked to Rock Island lake. Our campground was gorgeous, along with the view. It was not a bad jaunt, if you are looking for a quick place for experience. We had a huge moose walk passed our hammocks at about 3:00 a.m. The stomps were amazing, on top of waking up scared as hell knowing there was that huge animal passing by. We woke up to see him still in the lake splashing. Simply Amazing. I would love to come back and actually do the trail itself. We were told we were making a mistake going this time of year because mosquitos just hatched. THEY WERE NOT LYING. Being from Minnesota, we thought we were used to them. They were unbelievable, although with the proper clothing, never really were bitten. We were also told we would hit a lot of snow....we had a few patches but nothing to really even walk on.

hiking
6 months ago

I would rate this hike as more difficult than moderate, which is due the path being very narrow in a lot of places and a heavy amount of rocks on the trail. However, the scenery more than made up for the difficulty level!

I wasn't able to get to Phantom Lake (1000yds short) due to deep snow.

Beautiful hike! We were going to camp at island lakes but there was a snow crossing that didn't look safe so we turned around and camped at mystic. Spent two nights and explored the area and fished. Really enjoyed our time and look forward to going back. Had a few good afternoon mountain thunderstorms.

pretty, restrooms, parking, short walk but nice little lake

Beyond gorgeous hike!! The views were amazing. There was a fair amount of snow today for the last 3/4 of a mile to the lake. With the seasons changing, hiking boots and warm socks are recommended. Sneakers might not cut it!

hiking
8 months ago

Capped off a great longer day hike starting from East Rosebud lake going passed elk Lake and Rimrock Lake to end the day at Rainbow Lake. What a beautiful view and worth the extra mile past Rimrock Lake.

Such a great hike. Incredibly beautiful and a wonderful was to spend 2-3 hours. Great spots for photos. It's uphill to the lake but it's pretty gradual and not difficult. Trail is well maintained. The road going in used to be rough but it was graded and is now a breeze.

Hike here or die knowing you missed out. The most beautiful trail from beginning to end, with very little difficulty.

Beautiful. Felt so good to soak our feet in the gorgeous lake.

Gorgeous scenery! Very rocky trail, so makes it difficult to look around or hike fast, but otherwise spectacular!

hiking
8 months ago

I did this starting at East Rosebud Lake, going past Elk Lake and Rimrock Lake, eventually ending the day at Rainbow Lake. What an amazing day and scenic view. Took a needed swim on a hot day. It's cold blue waters did the trick!

One of the most beautiful hikes you will ever go on. Just loved it.
Gravel road to get there. Trail well marked easy to follow. Anyone in decent shape can do. Being bear bells and or spray.
We went to the far end of the lake, 8 mile round trip. Elevation not difficult, flatlanders can do.
It was stunning and remote and perfect. We saw no other people the whole time.

fishing
8 months ago

Was a tough hike. Beautiful trail. constant climb. There is a shortcut almost at the end. We took it. Saves you about 1.5 miles. on the way back we went the long way. it was an amazing view on top. caught 15 golden trout. stayed 2 nights. We had a wonderful time.

Simply an amazing hike! We started from the Cooke City side and seriously appreciated the downhill to East Rosebud. Spent a few extra days and took our time. 4 days, 3 nights. Tossed the tent down at Ozul, Lake at the Falls and Elk Lake. Ozul was amazing, lots of places to camp on the west die of the trail. The hike up past Emil Lake and Fossil Lake was incredible. Lake at the Falls was a fluke. We weren't planning on staying there, but it's where we ran out of steam. Hard to find a place near the lake, but still amazing. The hike from Lake at the Falls to Elk Lake is great too. Keep your eyes open for raspberries!

Pay attention to the weather, got caught in a few thunderstorms the first day. Be prepared...the skeeters were big enough to carry you off. Lots of bug spray!

backpacking
9 months ago

We spent 3 days on this trip, which was a great choice for backpacking newbies! To wrap it up succinctly:
Day 1: short, easy, a good way to start off (West fork trailhead to Quinnebaugh Meadows)
Day 2: challenging
Day 3: long (from September Morn to the Lake Fork trailhead)

It's a beautiful trip. I hope to do it again someday!

Simply outstanding. Waterfalls, mountains, lakes and fishing. Who could ask for more. An iconic hike that should be on your bucket list!

Great views all along this hike. Spectacular mountain meadows, lakes and hillsides

backpacking
9 months ago

Hi Mark,

Myself and a few buddies are headed there in two weeks. It will be our first time on this trail, any suggestions for which lakes were best for camp sights? The fewest people, best fishing, etc?
Also, did you do any side hikes off of the main trail? Any info would be awesome! Thanks!!!

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