THE DAY BEFORE THE HIKE
We meet in Cooke City, MT the night before our hike. We have accommodations that will be set up for you. We can go through Gear if needed. We will need to stage vehicles at one end of the trail head. This will take a few hours to accomplish. Alternatively, we can go up to the Trail Head and Car Camp the night before.
The Trail Head is in Cooke City, MT only a few miles or so away. We will start at the Clarks Fork Trail Head. Hiking from Clarks Fork to Rosebud involves ~1,700 feet less elevation gain than Rosebud to Clarks Fork, with the East Rosebud trailhead sitting at 6,280 feet, and Clarks Fork at 8,000 feet. If you hike from Clarks Fork to Rosebud, you’ll start on the Russell Creek trail (#3), until it becomes the East Rosebud Trail (#15), marked by a large cairn near Fossil Lake.
The first few miles wind through the woods following Russell Creek, then it opens up around Kersey Lake before diving back into the trees. From there, the trail climbs moderately through a canyon with rocky outcroppings overlooking the river until expanding into a panoramic plateau of lakes, peaks, and drainages. The trail reaches its high point at Fossil Lake (~9,750 feet).
There are myriad options for camping and tons of water, so the toughest part about finding a campsite will be which one to choose. the camping is so plentiful you’ll have trouble choosing the most beautiful spot.
Clarks Fork Trailhead (Mile 0) (Cooke City)
Russell Lake (Mile 6)
Skull Lake (Mile 8.2) CAMP
Fossil Lake (Mile 10) CAMP
Duggan Lake (Mile 13.5)
Rainbow Lake (Mile 18) CAMP
Elk Lake (Mile 22.5) CAMP
East Rosebud Trailhead (Mile 26)
After we choose our Campsite we setup and enjoy the views
We break camp whenever we want. After Coffee of course, and set out to do our other 8 or so miles.
You will not run out of water on this trail. Aside from the seemingly endless string of lakes, the trail follows running water nearly end-to-end. Depending on the snow year, we might have some high-water crossings. None are impassable.
After we reach our Campsite we setup on our final night and relax gazing at the Stars
We break camp whenever we want. After Coffee of course, and set out to do our other 8 or so miles. After arriving up at East Rosebud trailhead we will drive back down to Cooke City and have a hearty meal and a beer.
That night we stay in Cooke City and celebrate our accomplishment. Lodging is provided.
It depends on the year, but the optimal time for this trail is late July through mid-September. We might be post-holing at the top even in mid-July. We hiked this trail at the tail end of July and encountered just a few patches of slushy snow. The weather was 50-75 degrees and sunny, minus a bit of rain and thunder in the later afternoon. This is pretty typical for summer in Montana at that elevation.
You will not run out of water on this trail. Aside from the seemingly endless string of lakes, the trail follows running water nearly end-to-end. Depending on the snow year, you might have some high-water crossings. None are impassable.
The wooded part was ripe with mosquitos, but once we gained elevation they weren’t an issue. This is a bear-dense area, so always bear bag and keep your food in a scent-proof bag or container, and bear spray is a good idea. Grizzly bears are no joke.
This trail’s phenomenal grading and maintenance makes it a (relatively) popular trail. We intended to do the trail in three days and camp at Fossil Lake. The majority of hikers I encountered were planning to do it in 2-4 days to get the most out of the incredible scenery. There are myriad options for camping and tons of water, so the toughest part about finding a campsite will be which one to choose.
Being a Northern mountain environment, Yellowstone is prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Yellowstone. In June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer you’re likely to get rained on at least once during your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow appropriate clothing suggestions.
- Cooking stoves and cookware
- Bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear
- Company-issued first-aid kit
- bug spray
- Emergency communication device(s)
- At least a 50 Liter Backpack (that fits)
- Sleeping Pad
- Sleeping Bag rated for 30 degrees
- Rain Jacket
- Hiking Poles (Required for this trip)
- 1 Lunch 1 Dinner 1 Breakfast A few snacks (don't over pack food)
- 3 liter water platy or equivalent water bottles
Wicking, quick-drying underwear
Wicking, quick-drying sports bra
Wicking, quick-drying long underwear
Wicking, quick-drying T-shirt and long-sleeve shirt
Quick-drying pants (for added tick protection) or shorts
Fleece jacket or vest, or insulated jacket or vest
Midweight down or synthetic jacket
Waterproof/breathable rain jacket
Bandana or Buff
Sun-shielding hat or ball cap
Hiking boots or hiking shoes suited to terrain
Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
Gaiters (for added tick protection)
Sandals (for fording streams and relaxing in camp)
Change of clothes to leave in car
Lodging is completely covered in the trip cost for the night before and the night after.
You are responsible for lodging and travel to get to Cooke City, MT