beartooth beginner trip

McKee80

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Feb 9, 2017
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So, I've been a lot of cool places since I started backpacking 4 years ago. When I come home, I always tell my wife "I wish you could have seen that, I wish you could have been there". She's more of a front country girl. For my 50th birthday, she wants to take me on a backpacking trip. We'll probably go the first week of August. My first thought was Granite Park Chalet in Glacier, but I couldn't get reservations when they opened. So, I'm looking for a backup plan that would allow her to see mountains, wildlife, wildflowers, and glacial lakes (to her, glacial means turquoise colored, which I know depends on it being sunny and fed by a glacier). We've done the Mist Trail in Yosemite, so that is kind of the max per day I want to do. Ideally, set up a base camp. Here is my plan, I'd appreciate any holes you can shoot in it, other ideas, etc. I've been reading trip reports and this seems like a taste of the area without a ton of traffic.

Camp at one of the campgrounds along Beartooth Highway
Start at Island Lake.
Head up past Becker Lake, stay there if we feel like it, continue to Albino or Jasper otherwise. Set up base camp.
Spend 3-4 nights there and fish and take daytrips.
Possible daytrips:
Sky Pilot Lake (on a sunny day)
Silver Tarn (on a sunny day)
Climb the ridge above Jasper Lake
Make our way over to the Crystal Lake / Summerville Lake area

The idea is that we have an easy out if we need it. Some tree line, some above tree line.
 

John Goering

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Sep 30, 2014
Messages
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The Golden/Jasper/Cloverleaf area is sort of "rugged sameness" and could be a bit daunting in the pre GPS days. My memory of Sky Pilot is that there is some nasty, recent ground moraine debris that was absolutely no fun to get through. Quicksand on a 80% slope.

If you get to the Summerville area, there is a great camping area at the upper end of Castle Lake. It's also well worth the trip up to Castle Rock Glacier-although looking at it in google earth, there doesn't appear to be a lot left of it these days.

If it was my first adventure in the Beartooth's, I would likely stick to the beaten path. It's a good sampling of the terrain -from the rolling flatness of the Fossil Lake area to the truly spectacular vertical at the upper end of East Rosebud Creek. At no point are you more than a 13 mile day from either end. Just more people than going off trail.
 

McKee80

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Feb 9, 2017
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Thanks! I'll look into doing some of the beaten path and see if that works even better.
 

John Goering

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Sep 30, 2014
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449
If you do take the beaten path, I would try to avoid camping at Russel. That lake sits in a hole and the limited camp sites are dark, damp and in the timber. Bald Knob and above is much better-assuming you start from Chief Joseph.
 

Dorf

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2019
Messages
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So, I've been a lot of cool places since I started backpacking 4 years ago. When I come home, I always tell my wife "I wish you could have seen that, I wish you could have been there". She's more of a front country girl. For my 50th birthday, she wants to take me on a backpacking trip. We'll probably go the first week of August. My first thought was Granite Park Chalet in Glacier, but I couldn't get reservations when they opened. So, I'm looking for a backup plan that would allow her to see mountains, wildlife, wildflowers, and glacial lakes (to her, glacial means turquoise colored, which I know depends on it being sunny and fed by a glacier). We've done the Mist Trail in Yosemite, so that is kind of the max per day I want to do. Ideally, set up a base camp. Here is my plan, I'd appreciate any holes you can shoot in it, other ideas, etc. I've been reading trip reports and this seems like a taste of the area without a ton of traffic.

Camp at one of the campgrounds along Beartooth Highway
Start at Island Lake.
Head up past Becker Lake, stay there if we feel like it, continue to Albino or Jasper otherwise. Set up base camp.
Spend 3-4 nights there and fish and take daytrips.
Possible daytrips:
Sky Pilot Lake (on a sunny day)
Silver Tarn (on a sunny day)
Climb the ridge above Jasper Lake
Make our way over to the Crystal Lake / Summerville Lake area

The idea is that we have an easy out if we need it. Some tree line, some above tree line.
It's snowing outside so decided to pop in here for the first time in ages and post just because it's the Beartooths.

Your plan is pretty much what I'd do if my wife would ever come along with me again though I might give consideration to the Cloverleafs/Rachel Lake or Alp/Summerville/Crystal if you wanted to hike 2 days to get in there. A few trees @ Summerville, none at Jasper and only a few @ Albino

The Island Lake CG is your best bet to camp. Great views from the boat landing, the TH is right there and the Top of The World Store is 3 minutes away

If you fish keep in mind that Becker is in WY and Albino, Jasper/Golden are in MT. Good Cutt fishing in Albino and Jasper. Becker was disappointing. There are some great spots to camp at all those lakes so you can't go wrong. About 7 miles bit more strenuous to get to Jasper but the views from up on the saddle (moderate climb, maybe 350-400') are worth it---and it's all on trail. You probably know that there's an unofficial trail just above Beauty Lake that takes you to Becker.

Sky Pilot might be pushing it for a city girl but certainly worth the effort. Beautiful. Camped there back in '09 and that was enough for me. Coming down from High Pass was all large boulders and then a high angle snow field that had to be crossed where one slip meant a glissade into the lake. If you make it to High Pass then just keep going up Sky Pilot mountain for views of the lake and the beartooth plateau.

If you can, try to get to Summerville where it dumps into Sierra Creek-spectacular, as is Sierra Creek heading upstream toward Flat Rock. Probably close to a 10 mile RT but some would be on trail and there are use trails going up from Green Lake to Summerville. Like someone said there is a great camping north of Castle but also just about everywhere else in that basin so you can't make a bad choice. That area along with Sky Top lakes is my favorite in the Beartooths.

The East Rosebud Trail is worthy of consideration if you can work out the logistics. I'm not sure I'd agree with John that the trail gives you a taste of everything but it is really pretty. I do agree about camping at Russell Lake: nothing special but it's in a good location for a quick out.

Have fun. Photos below are from Sierra Creek/Summerville Lake
IMG_5391.JPG
IMG_5399.JPG


 

McKee80

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Joined
Feb 9, 2017
Messages
219
Wow, thanks everyone for all the great info. And the tip on Sky Pilot. We just want to look down on a glacial lake, no need to stand on the shore. Back to the maps!
 
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