While this run is a little over 10 miles round trip, it's not steep, so it makes for a moderate venture. This is a fantastic summer run due to the trail's proximity to water - both the creek and lake - and its route through the forest. Plus there are plenty of meadows for wildflower spotting, and Lost Lake is a great fishing spot.
From Red Lodge, MT, head south on Highway 212 for a bit over 10 miles. Right before the road begins ascending Beartooth Pass, turn right on Lake Fork Road. Continue for 1.7 miles until the road ends at the large Lake Fork Trailhead.
Begin up the well-built and easy-to-follow Lake Fork Trail #2
. The trail follows the Lake Fork of Rock Creek for its entire length, meaning it's a fairly mellow route interspersed with many waterfalls. Forested sections of aspen and pine offer shade while meadows provide views of the surrounding mountains and valley.
Shortly past 5 miles up Lake Fork Trail #2
, look for Lost Lake Trail #2B
which departs to the left, heading south. It's unsigned, so keep an eye out (if you get to a second bridge, you've gone too far). This 0.3 mile trail connects to Lost Lake while Lake Fork Trail #2
will continue up the drainage to Keyser Brown, First Rock, Second Rock Lake (all of which are spectacular and certainly worth the additional distance and climbing if you have the time, energy, and route-finding abilities).
Lost Lake is a stunning destination in itself though, with scenery, fishing, swimming, and exploring. The views open up, and the peaks at the end of the valley are visible. Do remember that this is a fairly popular spot though, so make sure to stay on designated trails, and camp and fish responsibly!
To return, follow Lost Lake Trail #2B
back to Lake Fork Trail #2
, and head down to the trailhead.
The trail passes through many meadows that are prime moose habitat—stay alert as to avoid spooking any of them and always remember to marvel at a distance. Deer and elk are also common, in addition to Bald Eagles. The Lake Fork of Rock Creek has some fishing (they're pretty small in the creek) as does Lost Lake (and all the lakes farther up the drainage).