The most popular trans-Beartooth route. Many people who know the Beartooths say the East Rosebud is the most scenic valley of all. It’s filled with lakes and waterfalls that would be major tourism attractions anywhere else. Here, there are so many, most don’t even have names. The cutthroat-filled lakes bring a smile to any angler’s face, and climbers love the place because of the endless array of rock faces. Families and friends frequently choose the Beaten Path for that long-planned wilderness adventure. Consequently, the East Rosebud Trailhead is probably the largest and most heavily used in the Beartooths. Adding even more use to the area is the small community of summer homes called Alpine right at the trailhead. The summer homes extend up both sides of the lower sections of East Rosebud Lake, closing off much of the lake to public use. This backpacking trip showcases all the beauty, austerity, emptiness, and majesty of the Beartooths. It’s a great introduction to the region’s richness, diversity, and starkness, traveling through the lowest bottomlands and the highest plateaus. Along the way the route skirts dozens of trout-filled lakes and stunning waterfalls. It penetrates rich forests and wanders the treeless, lichen-covered Beartooth Plateau. This trail touches the true essence of the Beartooths. This is the land of rushing water. Waterfalls and frothy, cascading streams are everywhere. There’s no such scenery in Yellowstone National Park. Nonetheless, we should all be elated to have the park so near, because it sucks up most of the visitors and leaves places like the East Rosebud for us. Still, this trail receives relatively heavy use compared to other routes in the Beartooths. Amazingly, however, the Beaten Path does not seem crowded. Even though hundreds of people may be somewhere along the 26-mile trail at any given time, most hikers would never know it. It’s always a surprise to meet another party on the trail, and quiet spots to camp abound. For uninterrupted solitude, and to really enjoy and experience the Beartooths, do make an effort to get off the Beaten Path. This trail has dozens of options for off-trail adventures—which is one reason the Beartooths can swallow up hundreds of people and leave the trail seemingly abandoned. Special attractions: Perhaps the best opportunity to really experience the breadth and diversity of the Beartooths.
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