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Pine Creek Lake

Intermediate/Difficult
  4.8 ( 8 ) Favorite

Trail

10.4 mile 16.7 kilometer out and back
69% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 3,391' 1,034 m
Descent: -3,391' -1,034 m
High: 9,022' 2,750 m
Low: 5,653' 1,723 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 41% (22°)

Dogs

Off-leash
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Map Key

Trail shared by Russell Hobart

A gorgeous trail to a series of alpine lakes nestled in a granite cirque.

Russell Hobart

Features Birding · Geological Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Overview

Getting to Pine Creek Lake makes for a long day filled with lots of climbing, but the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness delivers with waterfalls and lakes tucked into a rocky basin.

Runner Notes

Mostly good, even trail with some cobbles.

Description

From the parking lot, the trail starts off passing through a mix of old, burnt-out forest and some thick stands of trees. About a mile in, you come to the first waterfall which is where most parties turn around.

The next mile switchbacks its way up the hill until you come to a broad alpine valley that is filled with flowers in the right season. Rock hop across the river and don't follow the trail that stays to the right. Continue pushing uphill, gaining 1,800 feet in a 1.3 miles until the trail flattens out as it hugs a pretty stream.

You arrive at the first of lakes (it can be buggy it the right season and without wind) which lies at the base of a waterfall and large stone wall. More switchbacks head up the side of the cliff until you top out at a small pristine lake. Pass along the right side to arrive at Pine Creek Lake proper.

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Check-Ins

Dec 25, 2019
Rachel Guyer
Very icy and could only go up 2.5 miles. The trial pretty much disappeared and the snow was getting deep. 5mi — 1h 49m
Aug 7, 2019
Parker Herlihy
Epic views as you ascend through the forest and flower fields. The lake is wicked cold (8/6/19) but perfect preparation for your decent. 10mi
Aug 6, 2019
Hanna Holcomb
awesome butt kicking can't wait to do it again 10mi
Jun 30, 2018
Kirkwood Donavin
9mi — 2h 00m

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 8 votes

#847

Overall
  4.8 from 8 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
25%
3 Star
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Featured Run Rankings

#20

in Montana

#847

Overall
38 Views Last Month
1,125 Since Jul 19, 2018
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
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22%
44%
33%
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Photos

Pine Creek Falls Crossing
Dec 23, 2019 near Livingston, MT
View of the valley
Dec 23, 2019 near Livingston, MT
Looking down on the first alpine lake
Jul 21, 2018 near Livingston, MT
12/23/2019. The trail is no longer packed down at about mile 3, just after crossing pine creek, where this photo was taken.
Dec 23, 2019 near Livingston, MT
Verdant summer on Pine Creek
Jul 20, 2018 near Livingston, MT
Pine Creek Crossing in wintertime
Dec 23, 2019 near Livingston, MT

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