Explore the most popular dog friendly 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.

great trail, for every level!!

We plan on returning with the kids. Great walk. Dog friendly. Very easy.

We plan on returning with the kids. Great walk. Dog friendly. Very easy.

Did not go very far due to a storm coming up but did see a moose from far off!

hiking
2 months ago

Is it possible to park a motorhome at the trailhead? And if not, what is the camping like nearby?

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.

There are two routes from Mystic Lake, the first trailhead breaking off to the Southeast, shortly after the Mystic Lake dam, will take you up numerous switchbacks leading to a 6+ mile hike across froze-to-death plateau leading to the saddle approach. (Hint: stay high on the plateau, to the east, it has a tendency to push you lower, as you think you are heading more direct to the peak but this leads to getting out on the many peninsulas and can cause a lot of additional distance)

As far as the Princess Lake route that is shown, this can be a spectacular trip and, as stated, is much harder in full pack than the plateau route.

The route shown from Princess Lake to Avalanche Lake is basically impassable without climbing gear. I have rappelled down this section but I would not recommend up climbing it as it is very loose and very steep. (Extremely frustrating with full packs!)

A better route from Princess Lake is to follow the light trail from the west side of Princess Lake that follows the drainage from Snowball Lakes, then bear east, staying North of Storm Lake and around the Northern tip of Avalanche Lake, and then south along the eastern shoreline until reaching the approaches to the Granite Peak Saddle.

Be prepared for serious boulder hopping for several miles along Avalanche Lake. Tighten down your pack as you’ll be needing to jump over pretty deep chasms as you proceed.

There is a small area at the southern tip of Avalanche Lake to overnight, but probably 3 tents, max!

Enjoy!

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

hiking
7 months ago

backpacking
8 months ago

Lost Lake is a great trail, although can be hard to find if you don't know what you're looking for. If you make it to the bridge that is approximately 5 miles in, you have gone TOO far. The lost lake trail is about 300 yards before the bridge on the left. It is not marked, but is pretty well defined. It is a short (10 minutes or less) hike upwards, and then you stumble upon the lake. If you are walking back from the bridge, the trail will be on your right. Lake fork trail is beautiful! And there is water along the way so you don't have to worry about pups getting too hot. It is an equine trail, however, so make note of that if horse poo bothers you.

For the more adventurous spirits, if you are looking at the bridge there is a trail that goes off to your LEFT. (there are also some nice campsites to the left). That trail to the left goes through dense forest, and is at times primitive and not well defined (fallen trees, trail disappears in places, etc.) when you make it through the forest you will reach a BIG boulder field - my pup could not make it up the boulder field. Keep right and keep low, and there is a trail on the other side of the creek. Cairns will also direct you UP the boulder field directly, but this is a more difficult way. Stick to the right and follow the trail up the creek and eventually doing a boulder field scramble. This leads to Black Canyon Lake - a hidden gem!

Love the Red Lodge area.

This Island Lake Trail depicted is on private land and should not be in this app. The lake itself is not on private land, but right on the border between the ranch and USFS. There is another route from the northwest, available on topo maps, all on public land and you will be legal.

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!

Beautiful forested trail running by the creek. Well shaded. Gentle climb. Good access to water the whole way for dogs. Went on a Saturday and started at 10 am- saw 20 people the way out and at least twice that coming back but still had trail to ourselves most the hike. Beautiful lake at the end. We went to Lost Lake- our trackers have us at 11 miles round trip.

hiking
8 months ago

Great senior citizen warm up hike! Awesome Montana scenery! Hiked out/back to the Bridge, approx 10 miles - no Lost Lake sign in sight! Would be nice to have at least minimal signage!

hiking
8 months ago

Disregard my previous post. I'm looking at a satellite image and can see that there is apparently a spur that runs south off the main trail to Lost Lake sometime well before you get to the bridge. I think I may have seen this trail but there was no sign.

hiking
8 months ago

I enjoyed the hike but found the trail a bit confusing. As you push west along the creek you come to a bridge at about the 5-mile mark. I crossed the bridge and headed up the ridge for about 20-30min then came to a Y in the trail which was signed leading you further along the same ridge or dropping down to Keyser Brown Lake. Where was Lost Lake ? Other than this issue, I enjoyed the hike although it ended up at just over 12-miles. Any help/advice is appreciated !

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!

lovely walk. could be a great 5 mile look for running. took my mother that is not big into hiking yet and she loved it. there is a short cut to make it a e mile loop, we opted for that just so she didn't get too tired in the end. Very Leisurely and enjoyable.

fishing
9 months ago

not too bad for a novice hiker! the fish in Lost lake were extremely tight lipped...all I wanted was one grayling... although I didn't hike it at a very good time for fishing! Make sure to stop at Broadwater for brookies.

A must do hike

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful, gentle grade. Lots of places for our dog to get wet. Pack for changing weather conditions.

Great hike. We went about 3 miles in and the trail becomes a bit more shaded with switchbacks in a few places. Great waterfalls just a short detour off the main trail as you go up, and alongside the trail in he beginning of the shaded area. Lots of wildflowers in late July. Even the burned sections were growing a lot of brush and were gorgeous. Great views. Fun with the dog along too.

This is an incredible hike! However if you want to summit Granite Peak, I suggest going the Frozen-to-Death plateau route. This route is difficult to navigate with a pack between the Mystic Lake trail and Avalanche Lake. It is beautiful though!

Trail is rocky but a relatively easy hike. My dogs were able to go off their leashes and explore. Only saw two other people on the trail.

Absolutely LOVED this hike. The closest lake is 5 miles, and it goes as far as 19 miles in. And even if you don't make it past the first lake, the hike is still well worth it. However, remember to pick up bear repellent. Closest place to get it is Red Lodge, MT.

First half was burned in '88 (I guess) with little regrowth, but starting at Sentinel Falls you walk through beautiful forest and along rapids, cascades and falls. Great views of glaciated valley, and variety of gneissic granite.

Glad I went early. By the time I was going out at 10-12, there were dozens coming in, and the parking lot was literally full. Particularly enjoyed seeing so much of the cascading Lake Fork River as its descended along side of the trail.

I loved the views! Saw lots of wildflowers and an elk, the road up is rough definitely a jeep, truck of off-road vehicle needed to get the the trail head. Once you're there the hike is easy! Great fishing too, there's a little canoe that stays at the lake

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