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Hiking in the Beartooth Mountains: The Best Hiking Trails Near Skyline Guest Ranch


The Beartooth Mountains are home to some of the most pristine and untouched natural landscapes in the world, boasting towering peaks, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and sprawling meadows dotted with wildflowers. Though we mainly travel via horseback into the backcountry, we too appreciate a good hike with an amazing view! Within just miles of the ranch are hiking opportunities of various lengths and difficulties, allowing everyone, the opportunity to immerse themselves in the unspoiled beauty of Montana's wilderness. Here are a few of our recommendations for hikes near the ranch.

 

#1 Clarks Fork Foot Trailhead At just half a mile from the ranch, the Clarks Fork foot trailhead is one of our favorite places to send clients for a leisure hike and beautiful waterfall views. The first part of this hike includes a small network of well-maintained boardwalks leading to multiple viewpoints of several waterfalls on the Clarks Fork River. This trail then continues on for over 25 miles to East Rosebud near Red Lodge Montana. Referred to as the Beaten Path, this is a popular through-hike for experienced hikers. 2 miles into the hike you will reach beautiful Kersey Lake with an amazing view of Granite Peak, the highest peak in Montana. (If you prefer to skip the hike we offer horseback rides on the Beaten Path to and beyond Kersey Lake). What we love most about this trail is you can walk for as long or little as you would like. But if anything, at least stop for the beautiful waterfall viewpoints less than 100 yards from the trailhead.


Along the boardwalk at the very start of the hike, there are informational placards that describe the history of the river, most notably how it was used in mining efforts. You can see and learn about the flume and hydroelectric plant that the river powered, this was completed in 1916. Seeing the old remains of the power plant and mining equipment is a fun addition to the amazing landscape and scenery. The trailhead has multiple picnic areas and well-maintained restrooms. All of these factors make the Clarks Fork Foot Trailhead a great hike for kids and families or experienced hikers looking for a 3+ day hike in the backcountry.


#2 Crazy Creek Falls

This waterfall hike is a family favorite, we take the time to do this hike each spring to see the beautiful waterfall in full force after snow runoff. This 1.8-mile round-trip hike follows an over a half-mile-long waterfall with amazing views of the Beartooth Mountains. In the early summer, you'll be mesmerized by the sheer volume of water cascading down a rocky hillside. Though this hike does include a considerable elevation gain, there are amazing views the whole way.


#3 Woody Falls

Leaving from behind the historic General Store in Cooke City, Montana, this 2.9-mile hike climbs over 850 feet in elevation for a breathtaking view of Mt. Republic and Woody Falls. Though challenging, this hike is worth the climb! As you make your way along the trail, you'll pass through dense forests of pine and spruce trees. The trail follows a creek for most of the way, and you'll hear the soothing sound of running water as you hike. As you near Woody Falls, the trail begins to climb, and you'll cross over several streams on wooden bridges. The falls themselves are a sight to behold, with water cascading over a rocky cliff and surrounded by lush greenery. The Woody Falls hike is rated as moderate, making it accessible to hikers of all skill levels. It's also a great hike for families with children, as it's not too challenging but still provides a fun adventure. Don't forget to bring your camera, water, and bear spray.

#4 Beauty Lake Trail

The Beauty Lake Trail is a 4-mile out-and-back hike that takes hikers through some of the most stunning scenery in the Beartooth Mountains, located just 15 miles from Skyline Guest Ranch. The trail is a moderate hike, with a gradual elevation gain that is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. The hike offers views of the lake is surrounded by towering mountains, and the clear, cold water offers stunning views and a peaceful atmosphere. Hikers can continue on the trail to explore other nearby lakes or simply relax and enjoy the scenery of Beauty Lake. Wildlife is abundant in the area, with opportunities to spot moose, deer, and other wildlife. Overall, the Beauty Lake Trail is a must-do hike for anyone visiting the Beartooth Mountains. The stunning scenery, tranquil alpine lake, and easy-to-moderate difficulty level make it a popular destination for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts alike.


#5 Granite Peak

The hike to Granite Peak is a challenging and rewarding adventure that is not for the faint of heart. Located in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area, Granite Peak is the highest peak in Montana at 12,807 feet. The hike to the summit is approximately 20 miles round trip and takes an average of 2-3 days to complete. The trail is steep and rugged, with sections of loose rock and scree. Along the way, hikers will pass through alpine meadows, pristine lakes, and rugged mountain terrain. The views are stunning, with panoramic vistas of the surrounding peaks and valleys. There are also opportunities to spot mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears. The summit of Granite Peak offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding wilderness. On a clear day, hikers can see for miles in every direction, with views of Yellowstone National Park to the south and the Beartooth Plateau to the north. It's an unforgettable experience that will leave hikers with a true sense of accomplishment.


If you are interested in summiting Granite Peak, we would be happy to help make it happen. We not only offer convenient lodging but also provide drop camps at the base of the climb. Let our trusted mules pack in your gear and equipment or even hitch a ride via horseback to Lone Elk Lake.

 

From the majestic Crazy Creek Falls to the challenging and awe-inspiring Granite Peak, the trails in the Beartooth Mountains offer something for hikers of all levels and interests. Visitors to the region will find themselves surrounded by breathtaking vistas, alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife, making for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.


Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just looking to explore the beauty of Montana, the trails near Skyline Guest Ranch are sure to leave a lasting impression. So pack your hiking boots, grab your backpack, and get ready for an unforgettable hiking adventure in the Beartooth Mountains.

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