The Beaten Path Trail

HARD 22 reviews
#4 of 29 trails in

The Beaten Path Trail is a 23.8 mile heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near Roscoe, Montana that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

23.8 miles
6289 feet
Point to Point

dogs on leash




fly fishing


nature trips


horseback riding






wild flowers




Twenty-five miles of spectacular backpacking in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness of Montana, USA. "The Beaten Path" is a 25 mile trail traversing some of the most spectacular country within the 944,000 acre Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. Lakes and streams appear around just about every corner enticing both those appreciative of a spectacular Wilderness view or one with a penchant for hooking a trout upon the end of their fly-line. The trail itself is aptly-titled "The Beaten Path" for it is literally a well-worn treadway stretching from Cooke City in the South to East Rosebud in the North. Signage is ample and the route is easy-to-follow during the summer season (July - early September). For the more adventurous, ample opportunities to leave the trail and find true Wilderness lie up every draw you see. The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is part of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem and spans 944,000 acres of Montana and Wyoming. The two access points to "The Beaten Path" are at East Rosebud Trailhead (about 15 miles from Roscoe, Montana) and the Clark Fork Trailhead (a couple miles East of Cooke City, Montana). You'll find primitive car camping options at both ends of the trail so arriving in the evening and car camping before an early departure into the backcountry is an option. The trail rises in elevation to a high point and then descends so hiking North from Cooke City or South from Ease Rosebud are both options. Viewing the elevation profile will provide you a better understanding and will help you decide which direction is best for you. The trail is approximately 25 miles long and passes through a number of ecosystems. Although it has been hiked in a single day many times the beauty of the scenery and possibility for off-trail exploration may cause you to opt to spend a few days along the path. Consider shorter days and spend the extra time fishing or bagging a peak.

27 days ago

The Trail was great, saw some beautiful views! We started the trail by Cook City and ended up at at East Rosebud Lake. This is a difficult trail, so make sure you prepare and get in shape. Also the bugs were really bad when we stayed at Dewey Lake. Totally worth the sore muscles!!

2 months ago

This hike is by far my favorite. I do not recommend it if you are not used to hiking as it is a rough hike. This review is for when I went (which was not recently) and I still think about how amazing it was. Ive lived in Montana all my life and hiked a lot of trails and This is my number 1. Went went over labor day weekend for 5 days and did the whole thing. But that time of the yesr made it really cold at night especially when you get to the highest points. We also got stuck in a lot of rain. I recommend not going during that time. Be sure you have good gear and good shoes. Even my poor pups paws were raw by then end, if only they kept their paw protector boots on!

3 months ago

9 months ago

10 months ago

Such a beautiful hike. Did two nights and only went as far as rainbow lake. First day, started in the evening and hiked up to Elk Lake where we had dinner and camped for the night. We kept our tent up the next day and day-tripped to Rainbow lake, another 4 miles give or take, and came back to Elk Lake for night two. This hike is UNREAL, you feel like you're in a different world. East Rosebud -> Elk Lake is not too physically straining, but Elk Lake -> Rainbow is a little more difficult but well, well worth it.

We came in the early summer and there were many temporary streams to cross -- be sure to have some water proof shoes if you go right after snowmelt.

10 months ago

This trail was amazing. We started in East Rosebud and made our way towards Cooke City. We had an older person with us and only made it half way before turning around and going back to our vehicle. We took our time and stayed two nights/3 days. The views were breathtaking! I really look forward to doing this trail again, but starting on the Cooke City side and completing the whole trail The worse part is between Elk Lake and Rimrock, but if you can make it past that, it's well worth it! The only downside, is people didn't have their animals on leashes during the trail, and we had a couple encounters with spooked/territorial unleashed dogs.

11 months ago

Greet trail. Took three days and two nights started on the Cooke City side and ended at East Rosebud. We would have taken I other night but couldn't find a camp site at Elk Lake. Really beautiful scenery. I calculated the distance to be closer to 28-30 miles. My gps may have been off not sure.

11 months ago

This was a great trail and can be taxing on you if you aren't used to hiking. We started from Cooke City to avoid some of the elevation gain you will get from East Rosebud. The trail is well marked and a few crossings that don't have a bridge.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Loved it, so many different views and they were all beautiful. I did it in 4 days and I really enjoyed taking my time. I felt like the hardest part was hiking over a big stretch of rocks, we did in the mid-day though so it was pretty hot. That was closer on the side of East Rosebud. All of the lakes were just gorgeous!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

This was my first backpacking trip and we did it because this was rated "easy" which I guess is relative. It definitely was not easy for us and I definitely felt that the path was beating me, not that it was beaten down as the name suggests! We did 18 miles, and although there were some pretty lakes, we have definitely seen more scenic views since. I do not recommend this as an easy hike for beginners- it is really moderate unless you are a seasoned backpacker.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

been looking around for a while where all did you find your permits and regulations for this trail? thankyou

Monday, August 10, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Great hike. Have done it several times backpacking in 3 days. Have also done it in one day. Getting too old to that anymore. Awesome scenery.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

We did from E Rosebud to Cooke city (the harder way) in 2 days and it was glorious. I'm doing it again over 3 days this summer. I just want to be there longer. Why the hell would I want to rush through something like that? Why would anyone? If you only have a day, then sure, yeah, go do it in one day. But I know for a fact you won't see as much trucking along as you will if you take your time a bit.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Can anyone comment on hiking it in one day, from experience?

We want to hike it as a tribute to our uncle who passed away, he hiked it in a day. He was an avid hiker, backpacker, mountaineer and photographer. He was a beloved soul and it means a lot to us to try and do this. After my husband and I do the hike in a day, we want to go back in a couple years and take our kids to then do the beaten path in 3-4 days.

Looking to do the day hike in August this year.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

I have done this trail twice. Still by far my favorite hike.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

probably my favorite backpacking trip.. that's saying a lot

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Did this as a 3-day hike from Cooke City to East Rosebud with two of my brothers. We went mostly for the fishing, but the hiking can't be beat. If you love fresh mountain trout, you could live up here for days on end, catching the beautiful cutthroats that inhabit the numerous mountain lakes. There is water everywhere, so be prepared to get wet and cold.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Best of the Beartooths. If you are looking for an entry level backpack trail highlighting the best of the Rockies, this is it. I've done this trip four times now in 2-4 days each. Great hike. Mosquitoes can be bad - best to hike after a good frost. I woke up to snow in August a couple of years ago. No mosquitoes the rest of trip.