Hiking trails near Red Lodge, Montana

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of May 22-28, 1997
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Hiking trails near Red Lodge, Montana
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Hiking trails near Red Lodge, Montana
Question: We are planning several days of backpacking in the Red Lodge, Montana, area as well as some areas outside of Bozeman. We are not planning to go into Yellowstone National Park. Can you give some trail suggestions or other things we can't miss if we are in the area? We are planning to head out for the trip June 10. Thanks in advance for your help.

Christopher Schwalbach
Minneapolis, Montana
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: A highly recommended hiking trail near Red Lodge is the Lake Fork Trail (#28) 7 miles south of town. The trail works for acclimatized as well as sea-level hikers because you have a few options: Take the 20-mile overnight round-trip loop or do a there-and-back day hike. The bottom of the trail takes you through conifer forests and past steep walls with cascading waterfalls.

Seven miles in you'll find Lost Lake, where you can dangle your fishing pole in hopes of catching a rainbow trout for dinner. (You need to pick up a license in town if you plan to fish.) Lost Lake is a good turnaround point, but if you're in for more, the trail will eventually cross an 11,000-foot pass, where thick forests fade away and high alpine fields of wildflowers take their place. To get there, take Highway 212 to Lake Fork Junction (Forest Service Road #436). The trailhead is 1.5 miles down the end of the road.

As long as you're practically in Yellowstone, you might as well take in the Bear Tooth Highway, which will lead you to the northeast entrance of the park. But even if you have no desire to go to Yellowstone, this scenic byway is a jumping-off point for some of the best trails in the Absaroka/Beartooth Wilderness and Shoshone National Forest. For more details, stop by the Beartooth Visitors Center (406-446-2103) at the south end of Red Lodge, off the main highway.

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