Day Hikes around Bozeman, Montana
by Robert Stone (Day Hike Books)
© Robert Stone/Day Hike Books. All Rights Reserved.
Amy already wrote about Rat Lake so I'll write about the Garnet Look Out tower. The first mile and a half is a constant uphill slope, with long switchbacks (the trail is roadlike)- I would say moderate in difficulty just because the uphills are relentless. When the trail turns strenuous, there is a mile and a half left (there's a sign marking 1 1/2 miles). If you can make it up, you will be rewarded with beautiful flower meadows, lodgepole pines and 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. Plus, you can climb up the steps of the Lookout Tower and look inside, which is cool. The tower is at 8, 350 feet. From Rat Lake, the hike is 3 miles uphill and you can follow the same trail back down. You can take a detour to Pioneer Lakes (about 2 miles in) that is a mile away from the Garnet trail. Overall, I'd say Rat Lake is a cool stop on the way and if you can make it up to the tower, you will be very pleased with what you see...
Perfectly described by Amy. Additionally this is a great hike for little kids, mine were 2 and 4 at the time.
The parking area here is not marked, but you'll know when to park when you see a sharp turn uphill with enormous, muddy ruts up the entire length. There will likely be at least a car or two parked here. The trail starts out between some large rocks placed in the middle of an old road. The road is in excellent condition for most of the length, but it's clear why it is closed to traffic when you come to a washed-out area. This spot is pretty close to the lake, and when you see the steep four-wheeler road heading off through the woods to the right, you can either take it or the more gradual slope along the road to reach the lake. There are numerous paths circling the lake, both in the woods and along the shore. Near the point where Rat Creek leaves the lake, there are some beautiful trees and a very neat, old-looking bench. There aren't any large peaks in view from the lake, but it is a very cute place nonetheless. It is a pretty short hike, perhaps as far up to the small lake as it is around it. The elevation gain is minimal. For a longer hike in the area, there is an overlook tower at the top of Garnet Mountain, about 3 miles from the lake.
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