Questions about the Beaten Path in the Beartooths

Pringles

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Nov 23, 2015
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Hi,
I live relatively near the Beartooths. I've heard a little about the Beaten Path and know where one trailhead is, the one near Cooke City. I'm thinking about doing a short weekend hike on it next summer, sort of a sampler. Is the road to the NOT Cooke City trailhead (Rosebud, I believe) doable in a regular, low clearance car? Are there campsites within four or so miles from either end (Cooke City or Rosebud)? How early in the season can one get up there? Thanks for any information. Pringles
 

b.stark

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One end is near Cooke City, and the Northern end is south of Roscoe, at East Rosebud Lake. The road in there isn't terrible, but it would require slow going on certain parts with a passenger car. Some stretches are very good, some are pretty meh. As long as you avoid the potholes I think you'd be fine, there were some cars there both times I've been there. The washboards can be impressive. The first good camping is at Elk Lake, which is only a couple miles or so in. Next good camping is at Rainbow, which I think is 6-7ish (my memory is foggy on the distances) but you gain a fair bit of elevation. It was pretty crowded at Rainbow when I hiked by, but it's easy to see why when you're there. Couldn't tell you about anything on the south end of the trail, I've only been on the portion from East Rosebud to Fossil Lake. Some great waterfalls and very scenic in general.
 

Pringles

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Thank you for your answer. I appreciate knowing that my car can probably survive the drive. There are a few too many places that you don't find that you need something with high clearance until you've rounded the corner and gotten yourself in trouble--or at least the mud. I live relatively close and I've heard a couple of references to the trail, and thought it might be good to investigate. I'm a sucker for scenery (or wildlife, thermal features, lakes...). :). Pringles
 

John Goering

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IMO, both ends are readily accessible with just about any vehicle, especially the Chief Joseph Trailhead out of Cooke City. From the Cooke end, there are many places you could camp but most go to Russel Lake which I never cared for. Sort of a dank, wet, hole. Bald Knob is what I have usually gone to and it's nice. It is a lot easier/faster to do that trail from the Cooke end-1800' less elevation to climb.

It's a great primer for the Beartooth's but a lot of people. For my wife and I, it's more an easy access to the middle of the plateau and then off-trail leaving most of the people behind. My favorite places are Cairn Lake and the upper end of Sierra Creek-Castle Rock Glacier & Flat Rock Lake.
 

LarryBoy

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It's a great primer for the Beartooth's but a lot of people. For my wife and I, it's more an easy access to the middle of the plateau and then off-trail leaving most of the people behind. My favorite places are Cairn Lake and the upper end of Sierra Creek-Castle Rock Glacier & Flat Rock Lake.
Both of these are absolutely phenomenal spots.

I hiked east/west across the BT's last year, and frankly the short stretch of the Beaten Path that I did was the least interesting part of the whole hike - the lowest point of my hike was the highest point on the Beaten Path. That's not to disparage the Beaten Path, only to say that if you've got a few navigational chops and the willingness to wander off the Beaten Path (literally and metaphorically), you can vastly improve your Beartooths experience.

Seasons-wise, you're probably talking late July through early September. Late August is probably prime tme.

20160815_192506.jpg
 

Pringles

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Thank you for the information. I think I can be to Cooke City in less than two hours. I'm pretty timid about getting off trail, but "lots of people" on a trail is different than the quantities I'd see in Yellowstone. I just want to see some of what I'm missing. :). Thank you.
 

b.stark

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Shameless derail/plug for Beartooth off trail. You don't even have to go all that far from the Beaten Path to get to some good stuff (and probably have it to yourself).

Maybe 1-1.5 miles off the Beaten Path:


Fossil Lake (but away from the trail)


I'll leave it at that for now :)
 

Pringles

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Ooooo. I'm in love with that. I love being able to go to Yellowstone and wander by thermal features, and have buffalo to watch as I cook my supper. But scenery like those pictures... I love that.
 

John Goering

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Ooooo. I'm in love with that. I love being able to go to Yellowstone and wander by thermal features, and have buffalo to watch as I cook my supper. But scenery like those pictures... I love that.

Those areas may be immediately adjacent, but the difference is night and day. As far as I'm concerned, the only really comparable area to the Tooth's is the Wind's. No doubt Yellowstone has many times the critters/square mile but no place does it have that rugged, austere, glaciated high elevation alpine beauty.

Part of the Beaten Path from Chief Joseph to Fossil is included in this TR:
https://backcountrypost.com/threads/beartooth-loop.3693/

I don't in anyway recommend hiking/packing through the area around Broadwater and Curl Lake. Pretty but working your way through the deadfall from the 1988 Yellowstone burn is close to a nightmare-------
 

Pringles

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Nov 23, 2015
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I've been looking at the map I have... maybe I should say drooling. I love that area at and above treeline. John Goering, have you been to the Bighorns, too? Is the high area in the Beartooths a lot different than the high area in the Bighorns? I have had my eye on the Winds for a long time (15 years?) but never made it before I moved here, and once I did, I'm so much closer to the Bighorns and the Beartooths, than the Winds that I just haven't made it there. If avoid the Beaten Path trailheaads, and start at the trailheads by Beartooth Lake, or Clay Butte or Hauser Lake, it looks like I will be at that glorious open area much sooner. I just want to go someplace magnificent. :) Have you, or anyone else, started at any of those trailheads? I hiked from the Island Lake Trailhead a number of years ago, and thought it was beautiful. I'd like to go, and take my Klymit LWD and drink coffee and stare at beauty. Are those trailheads better choices? Thanks for your advice/thoughts.

Pringles
 

John Goering

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Pringles, are you near Billings? If you only have a day or two, check out the stuff off Rock Creek. A lot of it makes a good day hike. Hellroaring and Glacier Lake area. The roads to those are a little rough but most SUV's and any pickup will not likely have a problem. The road to Hellroaring Plateau Trailhead is sort of a treat all in its self.

And Yes, I have been in from the Beartooth/Island Lake side. We have done several loops from that direction by Becker, Albino, Jasper, and Cloverleafs, or out by Muddy Creek or Chief Joseph. The latter is a pretty good hike. I'd have to scan a few slides of those as they predate my digital era.
 

Pringles

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Nov 23, 2015
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John Goering, I live near Cody, in Powell, Wyoming. I'd have to look at a map to figure out the places you suggested, but if it takes a truck, I doubt my Corolla and I should try it. It sounds as if I should take almost any route EXCEPT the Beaten Path, though. I'm going to guess that the later part of July and on would be the best time to try hiking here.

b.stark, the pictures look wonderful. I'm not brave enough to do those boulder fields, but I am brave enough to see how far the trails take me. I smiled at the cow pies, and the knee replacement by 30. I think I recognized Index and Pilot peaks in a number of your pictures.

I have an Ursack, but without a lot of trees to tie it off to, I'm guessing I should dig out my bear canister. I don't mind carrrying the thing, but I hate the fight it takes to get it into and out of my pack. Oh well, one has to do what one has to do.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Pringles
 
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