A long loop on the southwest edge of the Beartooth Plateau, best suited for at least two nights out, with one short off-trail section. A short section is impassable for horses. Clay Butte is one of those rare trailheads that allow backpackers to go downhill instead of up at the beginning of a trip. In fact, the trailhead, at 9,600 feet, is almost the highest point on any trail leaving from it. The trail edges a few feet over 10,000 just before reaching Martin Lake, but most of the trip is at a lower elevation than the trailhead.
It’s only another mile drive to the lookout, where (at 9,811 feet) a splendid view is had of the Beartooth Plateau. From this vista, much of the terrain covered on this hike can be seen. As at other trailheads along the Beartooth Highway, anglers need to know which state they are in, so they can be sure to have the appropriate fishing license(s) and regulations. Special attractions: The short, easy, off-trail section can be a confidence builder, and unlike some trips, there are plenty of opportunities to get your feet wet.
© 2002 Bill Schneider/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.