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Hikers return to East Rosebud’s ‘Beaten Path’



East Rosebud, Montana – As a result of last year’s terrible flooding, one of Montana’s most picturesque mountain treks is now welcome visitors back to its paths.

On August 4, the East Rosebud Trailhead reopened after a 14-month shutdown, enabling access to Elk Lake and other well-liked hikes.

The 26-mile Beaten Path, one of Montana’s most well-known thru-hikes, begins and ends in East Rosebud and travels north to south across the Beartooth Mountains.

In June 2022, flooding throughout the region caused severe damage.

“The flood had a huge impact on the Custer Gallatin National Forest,” said Morgan De Meyer, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Forest Service. “Many of our waterways were affected as well as infrastructure surrounding those waterways. This was a very rare event. We’re trying to bounce back the best we can.”

Montanans who appreciate the gorgeous location were ready to get back on the path while staff assist the area in recovering.

“We’re headed back to school next week, we’re both educators and my twin sister, Tasha, wanted to show me this beautiful trail,” said Nikki Salazar, a Billings resident hiking to Elk Lake.

“It was quite devastating to see all the damage, but it’s just nice to be able to be back up here again,” Salazar’s sister, Natasha Norby, said.

One of the many lakes along the Beaten Path, Elk Lake is three and a half miles away from the East Rosebud Trailhead.

According to De Meyer, USFS trail staff will continue to work to reconstruct portions of the path below Elk Lake through the end of August, but hikers can continue on across a sizable boulder field to reach the lake.

“We’re really just encountering the initial landscape, there’s all this new rock and the water has risen up to the trail,” said Emily Walker, who hikes the trail with her family every summer.

“In fact, we were ready for our spot that we go to every year that overlooks the waterfall, but I don’t know if it exists anymore,” Walker said.

The trail becomes difficult above Elk Lake, coming to a spot at Rimrock Lake where a bridge was washed away by water, and the forest service does not advise attempting to cross the region on foot.

“There’s plans to repair the damage above Elk Lake, but that most likely will not start until 2024,” De Meyer said.

De Meyer claims that stock is not allowed on the entire trail from the East Rosebud Trailhead to Rimrock Lake.

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