Beartooth Beer Hike

Location of hike in the United States

The Beartooth Beer Hike is near the Montana-Wyoming border between Yellowstone National Park to the south and the small community of Red Lodge, Montana to the north.  This is remote country except for a steady stream of vehicular traffic crossing between the two states via Beartooth Pass, a heart-ramping drive with spectacular views along the way.

route map
Hike route – click on image for interactive route map in AllTrails.
Lake Fork of Rock Creek
Lake Fork of Rock Creek

The hike is better known as the Lost Lake hike, an in-and-out route that follows the Lake Fork of Rock Creek – being a New Mexican, I think it would be more appropriate to call it Rock River.  Montana hiking struck me as a place to be a lot more worried about bears than most places I hike – grizzly bears in particular are an unfamiliar quantity worthy of substantial caution.  As it turned out, I didn’t encounter any wildlife on this hike but I was tuned in and ready just the same.

The route to Lost Lake is a steady uphill march along a beautiful forested trail periodically punctuated by pretty grassy meadows.  The path never strays far from the rushing stream.  There was no traffic when I was there — we didn’t encounter another soul.  The steep valley is flanked by mountains on both sides of the stream.  Waterfalls spill off these mountains occasionally along the way.  Like most hikes I undertake, this is another one that was great for building thirsts.

Post-hike, we retreated to Red Lodge Ales, a small brewery operation just north of the town.  Red Lodge was a nice base for a couple of days.  The former gold and coal mining community has some nice old bones that I imagine old-timers consider to be inhabited now by a pretty foo-foo crowd.  The main drag caters to the passing tourist traffic with a good (more than is justified by the 2000 population) collection of knick-knack places, coffee spots, and places to eat.  I stayed with some acquaintances on a ranch near town with big sky views.

Red Lodge Ales was a busy place.  Contrary to their name, they also offered a fine lager or two.  I enjoyed a Dos Goatees Doppelbock, a strong (8% ABV) malty brew that their menu notes is a two-time gold medal winner of the North American Beer Awards.

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