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On the Trail: West Fork Trail #1 a good hike near Red Lodge

West Fork Trail #1
Posted at 7:07 PM, Jul 20, 2023

RED LODGE — Incredible views tucked away in the mountains might require you to take a hike, but it’s all worth it once you get to the end. At West Fork Trail #1 just outside of Red Lodge, the views are spectacular.

Babbling brooks and wildlife span as far as the eye can see.

“We had a moose come visit us at camp," Adam Restad, a hiker from Billings, said on the trail Sunday.

Just some of the features of West Fork Trail #1 about 30 minutes east of Red Lodge.

Dog in a swimming hole along the trail
Dog in a swimming hole along the trail

It’s family-friendly, and four-legged friends are more than welcome to join, on leash of course.

"I’m married and have a little boy, so I just wanted to bring him up here for a short hike," said Austin O'Shea, a hiker from Billings with his family, on Sunday. "We have our little dogs too so it’s kind of an easy hike to these waterfalls up here."

Austin O'Shea
Austin O'Shea

Just make sure you know where you’re headed.

My family and I set out to enjoy the relaxing hike but took a wrong turn. After realizing our mistake, we headed back down the mountain towards the waterfalls, where we ran into Restad, who had hiked up to Crow Lake.

“I try to get up to the Beartooths as often as I can,” Restad said.

Adam Restad
Adam Restad

Restad frequents the more difficult trails and says they’re more suited for experienced hikers.

“It’s pretty strenuous. It’s a lot of up and a lot of down," Restad said. "So I wouldn’t say do it on a whim, but if you’re feeling up for a challenge, go for it.”

For a more leisurely hike, head left at the trailhead and make your way to the Calamity and Sentinel Falls, less than five miles round trip. Just make sure you're always on the lookout for signs.

Sign at the trailhead
Sign at the trailhead

The first mile and a half is pretty exposed due to the 2008 Cascade fire that scorched the area. But the views make up for the lack of shade.

Scorched
Scorched

Along the trail, you’ll hear roaring waters as you approach the falls.

You can even continue the hike to Quinnebaugh Meadows if you’re up for a longer adventure.

So whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or an overnight backpacking journey, the Custer-Gallatin National Forest is ready for you.

West Fork Trail #1
West Fork Trail #1

"It’s not too far of a drive from Billings, it’s just a day trip. You don’t have to camp, although we do camp a lot up here," O'Shea said. "We like it because it’s accessible, it’s close."

For more information on the trail, click here.