first backpacking trip in the Beartooths, early August

Yvonne

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during my long visit to Yellowstone, I plan on a backpacking trip into the Beartooths.
I have about 2 nights and three days and look for something that is doable in that timeframe. I could eventually add an additional night.
I looked into the Russel Creek trail starting at Kershey Lake road and then going to Fossil Lake or any of the lakes nearby on the Rosebud drainage
It can either be a basecamp or I move camp each night.
I definitely look for something with great views, a lake, and solitude.

For you, who have backpacked in the Beartooths, what would be a nice introductory trip having 2-3 nights?
 

hikeer

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Comfortable with off-trail or prefer to stay on a trail?
 

Yvonne

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Comfortable with off-trail or prefer to stay on a trail?

I've done quite a bit of off-trail hiking but not sure how comfortable I would in an area I haven't stepped a foot in yet.
I often set up a base camp and then explore whatever is around me, no matter if it's a trail or just some off-trail explorations.
So I definitely take any recommendations for now.
 

hikeer

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I've done quite a bit of off-trail hiking but not sure how comfortable I would in an area I haven't stepped a foot in yet.
I often set up a base camp and then explore whatever is around me, no matter if it's a trail or just some off-trail explorations.
So I definitely take any recommendations for now.
Maybe base camp around Aero Lake and explore the Sky Top lakes basin around the base of Granite Peak. You could also camp at Fossil Lake and hike down to Impasse Falls or farther down the Beaten Path. Really pretty area from Fossil down to Impasse Falls. You could day hike up to Oly/Cairn Lakes from there as well.
 

Yvonne

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Maybe base camp around Aero Lake and explore the Sky Top lakes basin around the base of Granite Peak. You could also camp at Fossil Lake and hike down to Impasse Falls or farther down the Beaten Path. Really pretty area from Fossil down to Impasse Falls. You could day hike up to Oly/Cairn Lakes from there as well.

awesome!!! I will look into more detail this weekend.
I like the idea of a base camp and daily explorations of the area.
 

b.stark

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The Beaten Path as a point to point would be a very nice 2 or 3 day hike, the shuttle is a pain though. I've only been from Fossil Lake to East Rosebud, but I was very impressed. It's one of the few well established trails in the Beartooths, so it does get fairly heavy traffic, but if you wander a mile or two off of it to find camp, you'll lose most of the crowds.

The Aero Lakes are fantastic. Can be done as a dayhike from Lady of the Lake trailhead. The trail does just end at Lower Aero though, and to be honest the hiking/navigating around those lakes is surprisingly difficult. There is a loop you can do (more of a lollipop) that goes up Skytop Creek into the Skytop Basin, then work back along the Aero Lakes and back to the trailhead. I've heard varying reports on getting from Skytop Basin to Aero Lakes, there's a direct route that has a steep snowfield that can be very sketchy. There are other ways to get through the area that avoid it (and aren't as steep).

Starting at Island or Beartooth Lake, there are a lot of options for off trail wandering in high alpine lakes. I think you could work in a summit attempt at Lonesome Mountain also. Head on up past Albino, Jasper, into the Golden and Cloverleaf lakes areas, and beyond if you want. The Crystal Lake basin is really spectacular, if you make it that far.

Been eyeing the trail that goes to Mariane Lake. I've been through Z Lake/Lake of the WInds just beyond it, and wouldn't mind making a run back up in there again. I have no idea of the condition of that trail, but if it's in good shape I'd think you could have a nice 2-3 days back in there. Maybe not the most spectacular area in the Beartooths, but I did like it when we passed through.

Plenty of possibilities in the Beartooths, just be aware that there's not a lot of trail so travel can be a bit on the slower side. In general, Beartooths off trail is what I would call "challenging but fun," but you still can get in trouble (my worst backpacking experience ever was had in the Beartooths). Expect lots and lots of boulder hopping once you get off trail.
 

Chuck the Mauler

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How about the first week in July? I'm planning a route there but wondering about snow-pack (mostly because the plateau is above 10K) and mosquitoes. Here's a rough outline:
 

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b.stark

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How about the first week in July? I'm planning a route there but wondering about snow-pack (mostly because the plateau is above 10K) and mosquitoes. Here's a rough outline:


I did a similar route in 2008, we did it in late july/august(dont remember exactly for sure. Digital image dates show mid august but I thought it was earlier). Did another loop in the beartooths in 2015, also in august. Mid july in a normal or low snow year might be doable, first week of july, you're going to deal with a ton of snow. Go later if possible, in my opinion. I personally would go elsewhere if I had to backpack the first week of july. Usually mosquitoes will be problematic until sometime in august. They usually dont stop me from backpacking though.
 
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andyjaggy

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I have only been in the Beartooths once, Back in probably 97 or 98. We went to Froze to Death Lake, I think departing from East Rose Bud. I remember really liking it. I believe it took a day to hike in, then we fished and explored for a day, and then hiked out. I believe half of the route is on a trail, and at some point you have to leave the trail and find your way up into the basin.
 

Yvonne

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another question: what do you use for food storage in the Beartooths? Bear canister? Places to hang food?
I might get an Ursack Allmitey because I do not like to carry the bulky bear canisters.
 

John Goering

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another question: what do you use for food storage in the Beartooths? Bear canister? Places to hang food?
I might get an Ursack Allmitey because I do not like to carry the bulky bear canisters.

In 50 something years wandering the Beartooths, a bear line has always sufficed. There are obviously few trees in a big portion of it but usually enough cliffs present to rig a line off of. I have never had a bear problem there even though it is populated by both species.

I think if I was going to do an introductory 3 day trip there I would stick to the beaten path. Too many people anymore but hard to beat some of the scenery. The area around Fossil is sort of typical of the Beartooth Plateau area and East Rosebud canyon is similar to a lot of the other incised canyons. The beaten path was my introduction to the Tooths in 1964 but it was way less beaten in those days. I've hitched a ride from East Rosebud back to Chief Joseph at least a half dozen times without much of a problem. If I had to pick my favorite place in there it is the Sky Top/Cairn Lake area. The best access there is as per b. starks above post. We usually park the Jeep at Round Lake and take 573 down to the Lady of the Lake trail. While perhaps not a cake walk around Lower Aero, it not that difficult to pass through either of the saddles to Lone Elk or Rough Lakes.

Whatever you do, don't plan a trip that goes around Broadwater and Curl Lakes. The 88 fires REALLY made a mess of that area and it's a huge time sink getting through there.

One of my favorite Beartooth photos:


1981 taken from Summit Mountain looking northwest. Dewey Lake in the foreground, followed by Medicine and Cairn. On the extreme mid left is Oly Lake and the upper extreme left some of the small lakes right below lower Sky Top. Granite Peak is the flat top on the upper right.
 
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hikeer

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In 50 something years wandering the Beartooths, a bear line has always sufficed. There are obviously few trees in a big portion of it but usually enough cliffs present to rig a line off of. I have never had a bear problem there even though it is populated by both species.

I think if I was going to do an introductory 3 day trip there I would stick to the beaten path. Too many people anymore but hard to beat some of the scenery. The area around Fossil is sort of typical of the Beartooth Plateau area and East Rosebud canyon is similar to a lot of the other incised canyons. The beaten path was my introduction to the Tooths in 1964 but it was way less beaten in those days. I've hitched a ride from East Rosebud back to Chief Joseph at least a half dozen times without much of a problem. If I had to pick my favorite place in there it is the Sky Top/Cairn Lake area. The best access there is as per b. starks above post. We usually park the Jeep at Round Lake and take 573 down to the Lady of the Lake trail. While perhaps not a cake walk around Lower Aero, it not that difficult to pass through either of the saddles to Lone Elk or Rough Lakes.

Whatever you do, don't plan a trip that goes around Broadwater and Curl Lakes. The 88 fires REALLY made a mess of that area and it's a huge time sink getting through there.

One of my favorite Beartooth photos:


1981 taken from Summit Mountain looking northwest. Dewey Lake in the foreground, followed by Medicine and Cairn. On the extreme mid left is Oly Lake and the upper extreme left some of the small lakes right below lower Sky Top. Granite Peak is the flat top on the upper right.
That is a very cool picture!
 

Hiker Seth

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May 15, 2019
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Kicking this thread back up as I am leaning towards a week long August trek across the plateau starting at Island Lake, crossing the beaten path, and then up to Cairn, Skytop, Aero or some variant of. More than happy to entertain partner(s), in fact I would welcome them.
 
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