Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Backpack the Beaten Path in 5 Comfortable Days

December 26, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 98

The Cooke City to East Rosebud trip - AKA "The Beaten Path" - is the ultimate in backpacking in Montana. The 26 miles of trail crosses some of the most scenic and incredible country in North America. It also is home to awesome high altitude trout fishing. This is a hiking guide to allow for a 4-6 day trip with the best places to camp and fish along the incredible scenic route.

First Day: If you have a high clearance vehicle, you can take the 4x4 trail from the highway at Broadwater Lake, cross the Broadwater River and then get out and start the hike where the 4x4 road and the trial parallel each other for a time. However, this really doesn't save you much walking. If you don't have a high clearance vehicle, park at the trail head parking area across from the Chief Joseph camp ground, or better yet, have someone drop you off.

You will ascend and go along the edge of Kersey Lake and then come out at the edge of a giant, lush meadow. As you cross the meadow, (private land), make sure you stay on the trail (wooden plank) to keep from damaging the meadow and respect the private landowner's property rights.

Six miles in you will hit Russell Lake. Great camp sites above the lake, lots of mosquitoes if it is warm, and we even saw a wolverine in 2009. The entire trek is bear country so keep a clean camp, but there are more bears on the south side (Cooke City) than there are on the East Rosebud side. This is a heavily used area and the firewood is hard to come by. If it isn't chilly, just use your backpackers stove and save the firewood gathering effort for later.

Day two is the big elevation push, but it is not bad. Once you pass Bald Knob Lake, the trees start to run thin and finding a good campsite can be a challenge - especially if the weather is threatening. Twice now I have camped above Windy Lake (clue, huh?) and we have struggled to find firewood and a place that wasn't a boulder field. This is the last place you can have a fire until you are below Impasse Falls.

If you have the energy, between Bald Knob Lake and Windy Lake, take a few minutes to go to Mermaid Lake or up the hill to Picasso Lake. I have never caught a fish from either, but Picasso has golden trout and the word is Mermaid Lake has gigantic cuts in it.

Day three takes you over the "hump" by Fossil Lake. Make sure you enjoy the scenery on the way - jaw dropping gorgeous. For fun, start counting the waterfalls along the trip. We counted 35 between Fossil and the East Rosebud that met our arbitrary criteria. We stopped below Dewey Lake and camped in the area between Dewey and Twin Outlets, but there are plenty of nice sites all around Dewey. By the way, I think Dewey Lake is the most beautiful place I have ever been - and I have done some traveling in my life. Just remember, no campfires in this area. Dewey is full of big fat cuts, but they are selective and hard to catch.

Day four's camp site can either be Lake-at-the-Falls or further on down to Rainbow. Lake-at-the-Falls is appropriately named and you will see why. However, camp sites are tough as the country is steep and rocky. To meet the wilderness criteria of camping 200 feet from lakes is a real challenge here. Rainbow is easy though, although if it is a weekend, you may have to camp near another party. Lots of folks like to make a short weekend trip of going to Rainbow from East Rosebud.

Next you have a choice of going out (as we have done) or you can stop at Rimrock Lake for another night. Again, camp sites are limited at Rimrock due to the terrain, but not impossible. And there is plenty of dead wood left from a monstrous avalanche that occurred sometime between 1989 and 1997 (I think it happened in the winter of '96/'97 based on our observations on the '97 trip.)

I have been backpacking since I was 8 years old and I do have to say, the Beaten Path is the most incredible trip I have been on - and that is a pile of backpack trips over the 40 plus years I have been wearing boots out.

Ward M. Thurman is a professional photographer and practical conservationist that has spent a lifetime in the outdoors, fishing, hiking and backpacking in North America. His site, provides the sensible backpacker with places to go, gear reviews and practical how-to backpack advice.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

East Rosebud


Beaten Path


Camp Sites


Windy Lake


Bald Knob Lake


Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness



LED boat trailer lights are designed to offer high-power output and low-power consumption for ultra-bright and reliable illumination; they are sealed to resist UV-radiation, corrosion, and water

By: Simon Liva l Recreation & Sports > Boating l December 12, 2012 lViews: 274

All these scooters are highly durable as they have been made using qualitative materials. They are ideal for extreme tricks, jumps and stunts for youngsters and are extremely light in weight. All

By: Simon Liva l Recreation & Sports > Extreme l November 24, 2012 lViews: 413

The interest in BMXing has grown massively over the past few years. With BMX hitting its peak in the 80's with freestyle riders, the sport has never looked back. Even more impressively BMX racing is

By: Alan Trotter l Recreation & Sports > Cycling l October 24, 2012 lViews: 452

Mountain biking has grown vastly over the years from simple, open entry competitions to global world cup and olympic events. There are still local enthusiasts and the sport has a dedicated following.

By: Philip Loughran l Recreation & Sports > Mountain Biking l July 10, 2012 lViews: 248

It's unfortunate but true that although summer holidays such as the 4th of July and Labor Day offer some of the best opportunities for families to get out and enjoy some quality time together, with

By: Dexter Luck l Recreation & Sports > Boating l July 10, 2012 lViews: 585

The term "Klunker" that for years became synonymous with heavy, clumsy machines, was actually the model of bike made by the Schwinn company that had something to do with the origins of freestyle

By: John D Meyers l Recreation & Sports > Mountain Biking l July 10, 2012 lViews: 270

If you want to make sure that you perform your job correctly and efficiently, then it is important that you find, purchase, and maintain the proper arborist pruning equipment. For many arborists, a

By: Rhonda Rauschl Recreation & Sports > Climbingl June 04, 2012 lViews: 175

Five different climbing tips that should help improve your overall climbing performance. Climb at a higher grade by following these steps.

By: Michael Eyersl Recreation & Sports > Climbingl May 01, 2012 lViews: 133

Identifying the correct sunglasses for trekking and climbing in the UK and Europe... Ive tried loads and these work!

By: Dave Johnathan Smithl Recreation & Sports > Climbingl April 25, 2012 lViews: 216

There are many different kinds of tree climbing gear available for different levels of climbers and for different types of climbs. As a beginning climber, you may be overwhelmed by all of the

By: Rhonda Rauschl Recreation & Sports > Climbingl April 23, 2012 lViews: 204

When you are choosing tree climbing supplies, you have a huge array of different options. The proper climbing supplies will depend on how high you want to climb, on what type of climbing experience

By: Rhonda Rauschl Recreation & Sports > Climbingl March 29, 2012 lViews: 140

Whether you call it McKinley or Denali, at over 20,000 feet, the highest peak in North America is certainly a challenge. There are no "walk up" routes on the mountain. Most people who say it's a walk

By: Don W Wrayl Recreation & Sports > Climbingl March 14, 2012 lViews: 149

I can't remember all the times I have seen someone walking down a trail with a pack on that made my back hurt just looking at them. Once I watched a guy with a massive internal frame backpack walking

By: Ward M Thurmanl Recreation & Sports > Climbingl January 16, 2012 lViews: 141