Explore the most popular wildlife 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.

Beautiful hike (last August) with a lovely stream / small falls before the lake. It started raining near the top, but we kept going and felt peace at the lake with rain and solitude.

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
1 month 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
1 month ago

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

backpacking
1 month 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
2 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
2 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
2 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.

hiking
5 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.

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.

Beautiful day hike, left early and no one was around for most of the day. Right before getting to the first lake is kind of a when the heck am I going to get there feeling then you pop over a little crest and there it is! There's a few very decayed cabins along the route, I'm a big fan of abandoned buildings so that was fun. One of my favorite hikes in the Beartooths.

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.

Great trail with wonderful lakes! Definitely go when there is snow as it makes the mountains look so much more beautiful!

awesome trail, great up and down terrain, beautiful views, nice cardio, loved it!

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
6 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.

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

backpacking
7 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.

Easy one day hike. Seems to be well traveled, although it was labor day weekend

Loved this hike. Great trail, I personally loved the lower lake the Lilly pads where adorable, the upper lake was very nice too. the upper lake would be great fishing. one of my top 3 favorite hikes of the summer. I will be going back soon ♡

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
7 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.

This was a really nice trail. Well maintained. I'm going to grade everything on a flatlander curve for difficulty- I live in Ohio and am in moderate shape (can run 3-5 miles without stopping). I agree for this area this is a moderate hike- for someone from out east I would rate it moderately hard. The whole first 3 miles (to Lower lake only) is uphill and there are quite a few steeper switchbacks. Also very gravelly, so easy to slip going up or down. The Lower lake was as far as we made it- it started to cloud over then storm so we had to turn back. The lower lake is not that remarkable, so if the weather is good and you are fit go up to the upper. Would definitely do again. Good for dogs also. Started at 8:30 saw only one other couple until we headed back down, very peaceful. No bears! Don't hike this if you aren't in decent shape.

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