Backpack West Fork - Lake Fork of Rock Creek Trail

Rate this Adventure Montana West Fork Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer

  • Trail Type:

    Point-to-Point

  • RT Distance:

    19 Miles

Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Take in some of the best views Montana has to offer. Hike all the way up to 11,000 feet atop Sundance Pass and enjoy an epic panoramic view of the Beartooths. The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is home to 30 12,000 foot peaks and is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Start out at the West Fork trailhead west of Red Lodge and begin on an epic backpacking trip. This trek can easily be done anywhere from 2-5 days depending on ability and whether or not you want to take your time.

Camp first at Quinnebaugh Meadows, a large meadow with great views of the Beartooth Mountains and especially Whitetail Mountain to the southwest. Then head on to Shadow Lake, a small pristine lake at the foot of Castle Mountain and Whitetail Mountain. Also consider checking out Silt Lakes, a small scramble up from Shadow Lake. Then after Shadow Lake and the pack bridge is Sundance Pass. Sundance Pass starts at the bottom of the valley and gains 1,500ft elevation in a fairly short distance with 57 switchbacks going straight up the mountainside reaching 11,000ft. The views at the top are absolutely breathtaking and a perfect spot to hang out and eat lunch. It is also a popular spot to head off the trail and get even deeper into the AB Wilderness.Then drop down the pass and camp out at September Morn Lake, a beautiful deep blue lake with cliffs jutting up just off shore and a waterfall coming in and going out on either side of the lake. For your last night you can camp at Lost Lake, Black Canyon Lake or Keyser Brown Lake. All offer stunning mountain views. Then hike out to the Lake Fork trailhead a few miles south of Red Lodge.

Don't forget to keep an eye out for wildlife as bears and moose are very common for hikers to see. Mountain Goats can also be seen from a distance climbing along cliffs. Many of the lakes in the Beartooths have fish in them along with the creeks, so make sure to bring your fishing gear!

Make sure to stop into Red Lodge Ales before leaving town for a well deserved brew! Also consider traveling the Beartooth Pass to Cooke City for an epic drive through the mountains.

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Tent
  • Sleeping materials
  • Water/filtration
  • Food
  • Fishing Gear
  • Bear spray
  • Map and Compass
  • Day pack for short hikes
  • Any other backpacking essentials
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