Explore the most popular nature trips 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

great trail, for every level!!

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

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!

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

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!

hiking
2 months ago

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

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.

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!

Should have brought snowshoes. But it was a beautiful hike for me, my sweetie & our labs.

Great trail. Beautiful views and lots of little bridges. My young lab puppy did well on this.

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.

It’s an easy out and back, especially if bringing kids along. The trail starts behind a campground, it was confusing to find at first because there are multiple trails that start from this campground, one leads to palisade trail and the other is this one. Overall a fun hike, super easy elevation and my dog loved the creek. There is some snow towards the end of the hike, did not see any wildlife.

hiking
7 months ago

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!

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