Beartooth's Hellroaring Plateau

John Goering

Sep 30, 2014
This area is nice for either a short backpack trip or a day hike. Access is off of US 212, approximately 9 miles south of Red Lodge, Montana. The turn off is right at the bottom of the switchbacks out of Rock Creek past the FS Parkside and Limberpine camp grounds and after crossing the creek, proceed on FS road 2004. This road is not quite Jeep trail but there is a lot of rock in the large cobble size and even a few boulders and a full size SUV, pickup or Jeep is advised. Road 2004 is an old mining road that winds its way up the west side of the canyon through a small bowl and has a number of tight switchbacks near its terminus at the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary at an elevation of approximately 10,200'. In the past, pre-wildness era, the road continued about 3 additional miles to several mining prospects and most of that is now FS Trail 11. From the trail head, FS Trail 11 takes one to the junction of the Hellroaring Lakes path (user trail) at the two mile mark. From there, it is about a mile to Snowbank Lake and another half mile to Hairpin Lake. There are a number of good tent sites between those lakes.

Other lakes in this group include Crescent, Elk Horn, Hellroaring, Daly, Smethurst, and Rydberg. Sliderock Lake sits above these in a connected but separate bowl.

Day one of our trip consisted of several hours of driving and about 3.5 miles backpacking with camp set up near Hairpin Lake.

At the trailhead:
Looking east into Rock Creek. Switchbacks on US 212 with the Rock Creek Vista Overlook on far left.

View to south from trail head.

Rydberg Lake with a small piece of Smethurst Lake in foreground from the plateau.

On the user trail to Hellroaring Creek basin.


Camp with Snowbank Lake to rear.

Day 2, a day hike to Sliderock Lake
Hairpin Lake

Trek to Sliderock.


Sliderock Lake, Mount Rearguard (12,204') to right

Heading back to camp.



Day 3, a day hike to lakes in the lower basin
Heading to Elk Horn Lake.

Crescent Lake, fun fishing but rather small brooktrout.

Some great krumholtz-whitebark and subalpine fir. Some of the whitebark trunks were about 14" diameter.

View towards Rydberg and Rock Creek from Crescent.

Back in camp-pooped pup.


And a little protein supplement (Yellowstone Cutthroats) for the Mountain House dinners.

Day 4, back to trailhead
Hairpin Lake.

Snowbank Lake.

From the user trail.

Back at the trail head.

And the goats made good use of the Jeep bumper while we were absent.

Featured image for home page:
Those were some big backcountry Cutthroats. Nice catch. I like the hairpin lake pic. The tent so small gives great scale to the landscape.
Very nice! And a fish pic too...thanks for sharing. Live it up man!
Those were some big backcountry Cutthroats. Nice catch. I like the hairpin lake pic. The tent so small gives great scale to the landscape.
Nice John. Thanks for sharing. Rugged country! At least the trail-less route pics you show. Another place to add to the list. You might enjoy our thread here "Dogs of Backcountry Post" if you haven't seen it.

Oh... never already have. I knew I had seen that black and white before... ;) What is a chessie?
Last edited:
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Joey 7 Day Yellowstone, Slough Creek, Hellroaring, Absaroka Beartooth Loop Backpacking 21
John Goering The ancient past. 1980 Beartooth trip Backpacking 11
Ymyr Suggestions in a Yellowstone and a Beartooth trip Trip Planning 29
Bob Beartooth changes from Spring flooding General Discussion 2
scatman Beartooth Wilderness - Flat Rock Lake Lollipop Loop - July 26, 2021 Backpacking 56
futurafree Beartooth Lakes and Passes Trip Planning 2
Dustynails0 Beartooth lake to East rosebud traverse Trip Planning 6
McKee80 beartooth beginner trip Trip Planning 5
westy Beartooth plateau Backpacking 1
W Absaroka Beartooth near Yellowstone Trip Planning 3
John Goering Return to Goose Lake/Grasshopper Glacier area of the Beartooth Mountains Hiking & Camping 7
LarryBoy Off the Beaten Path - Five Days in the Beartooth Range Backpacking 11
westy Beartooth Mountains Backpacking 5
Bryan Harwood Absaroka- Beartooth Wilderness: 6 Trips July-Sep. 2015 Backpacking 12
b.stark A Very Late Beartooth Report Backpacking 14
John Goering Beartooth Mountains, Lake Plateau Backpacking 11
John Goering Beartooth's Goose Lake area Hiking & Camping 2
John Goering Beartooth loop Backpacking 27
P Hellroaring area, Yellowstone Backpacking 9
P Yellowstone — Blacktail Ponds to Roosevelt, through Hellroaring Meet Up (Members Only) 5
Aldaron Hellroaring Creek, Yellowstone Trip Planning 0
BobFink Mirror Plateau via Pelican Valley and Pelican Creek, July / August 2023 Trip Reports 12
Jackson Bechler 4 (and the Pitchstone Plateau) Backpacking 19
Janice Lizard Head Plateau - overlook Upper Cathedral Lake? Trip Planning 15
westy Colorado Plateau spring Hiking & Camping 0
fossana CO Plateau nuisance flora/fauna conditions 2023 Trip Planning 13
RyanP Does knowing the geology of the CO Plateau give practical insight for trip planning? General Discussion 20
F Up on the Kaiparowits Plateau Backpacking 21
beaver-one Yellowstone advice: Lamar River - Pelican Valley - Mirror Plateau loop this summer Trip Planning 6
TheMountainRabbit Lamar River, Mirror Plateau, and Pelican Valley (Yellowstone NP) - mid-September 2020 Backpacking 28
P Pitchstone Plateau water Backpacking 7
TrailScot Quite the Adventure, South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 4 Backpacking 17
TrailScot Quite the Adventure, South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 3 Backpacking 8
TrailScot Quite the Adventure - South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 2 Backpacking 14
TrailScot Quite the Adventure - South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 1 Backpacking 10
Titans COLORADO PLATEAU ROAD TRIP - November & December 2018. Hiking & Camping 21
fossana CO Plateau backpacking suggestions for spring run-off season Trip Planning 14
scatman Plateau Lake and Buffalo Meadows, Yellowstone National Park 7/27 - 7/30 Backpacking 18
B Trip Selection Help: Tumble Creek or Sanford-Dadina Plateau (WStE AK) Trip Planning 12
regehr Kaiparowits Plateau Trip Planning 7
scatman Mirror Plateau and the Lamar River Loop - Yellowstone National Park - July 7, 2016 Backpacking 38
IntrepidXJ Easter Weekend Around the Paria Plateau Hiking & Camping 1
IntrepidXJ Dome Plateau Hiking & Camping 4
scatman Invite Mirror Plateau - Upper Lamar River - Hoodoo Basin - Yellowstone National Park Meet Up (Members Only) 27
BJett Cumberland Plateau - Obed/Big South Fork Hiking & Camping 7
Joey Yellowstone's Pitchstone Plateau, Ferris Fork, Bechler Canyon Loop Backpacking 8
kansas October trip to Uncompahgre Plateau Trip Planning 14
hatchcanyon Dome Plateau (2009) Off Road 8
hatchcanyon Dome Plateau (2002) Off Road 3

Similar threads