Granite Peak is a grueling backpacking trip that requires physical and mental toughness. The challenge is what makes the journey so worth it and, of course, the incredible views. 

There are a few ways to approach Granite Peak. The most popular route is the Mystic Lake trail in West Rosebud. It lies primarily on opinion as to which route is the best, easiest, or most scenic. I chose to start at the Phantom Creek trailhead in the East Rosebud Valley. You will follow this trail up "the switchbacks from hell" for around seven miles, gaining approximately 3,500 feet in elevation along this trail. As the trail ends, the hiking becomes more difficult and requires great navigation skills. A map is necessary, and a GPS will come in handy if you get stuck in a storm. The trail ends on Froze-to-Death Plateau, which is a perfect place to set up camp. If you are wanting to forge ahead, there is also camping at Granite Peak's base camp on Tempest Plateau, which is about three miles south of Froze-to-Death. There are slight elevation gains and many boulder fields, as well as complete exposure to the elements. There are cairns sporadically placed to lead you to Tempest, but don't count on them. You will need to plan this trip prior and become familiar with the layout of the plateau. Once you have made it to Tempest, you are presented with the peak itself. You will want to start summit day as early as possible, before the sun is up if you can. You will end up losing about 1,000 feet of your elevation by following the peak's saddle down to begin the climbing approach back up. Ropes are not completely necessary, but they provide peace of mind and are extremely useful in at least three spots once you get past the saddle. Bring a rope, harnesses, and helmets to be safe. It is only about a mile up, but the climbing is very exposed and time consuming. Bring plenty of water! Once you get to the top, enjoy all of the beautiful scenery around you and celebrate, but don't forget to plan your route back down.  

Pack List

  • Hiking gear (UV protective clothing, wool socks, good boots...etc)
  • Camping gear (tent, warm sleeping bag, essentials...)
  • Climbing gear (rope: 60m is fine, harness, helmet..etc)
  • Adventure partners (this is not the type of hike you want to attempt alone)
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RT Distance 14 Miles
Activities Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Stay Humble, This Mountain Is Legit

We parked at the west rose bud and hiked to the reservoir. When you start descending to the reservoir be careful you don't miss the small left turn that brings you up to Froze-to-death plateau. It's a small trail about half way down the reservoir on the left with a small sign and pile of rocks. We camped at the bottom of the plateau because we got a late start and set up camp just past midnight. Woke up at 4 am to start our summit. Definitely make sure you bring a lot of water and snacks to summit. Be careful following karens because they don't mean shit. There is no trail next to them, they really just mean there was a human there at some point that happened to make a rock pile. On the plateau there is no trail just walk south until you see Granite Peak and head that way. It's hard to describe a trail from here to the top of the plateau because there isn't one. I would strongly advise a rope, harness, and possibly some trad gear (we built an anchor to cross the snow bridge). We didn't use rope on any of the climbing up other than the snow bridge but definitely repelled our way down. (We couldn't get 2 pieces of gear out from our anchor set up for the snow bridge so feel free to use them. There's one piece on each side and we couldn't get them out so there pretty bomber) don't be dumb up there, if there's weather, turn around! If your not comfortable, don't do it. Summit fever is real and kills people. We Summited and got back to our camp after getting caught in a huge thunder/lightning storm on top of the plateau on the way down. 1/2 mile visibility is not favorable. If we were to do it again we would have camped on top of the plateau and would have a GPS with our tent coordinates marked. Other than that it was a life changing, humbling experience I will remember for a lifetime. Very very few people do this trek. 2nd hardest peak to summit in the country behind Denali! Stay safe!


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