Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cottonwood Lake: Crazy Mountains

The Drive Into The Crazies 


Mindy and I decided to venture over to the Crazy Mountains today. Our destination was the Cottonwood Lake Trailhead. I used my All Trails App to get us to the location. The last 40 minutes of driving is on some pretty rough roads I wouldn't recommend going in a car. The parking lot is 1 mile further away then what is listed on the App....so instead of a 10 mile round trip plan on 12 miles total.

The Crazy Mountains are my favorite so far out in Montana. There is something about the jagged peaks that sets them apart from anything else we've hiked in Montana. There is an abundance of wildlife in this range, moose, elk, mountain lions, lots of eagles, deer, black bears (no grizzlies) and the highest concentration of Wolverines in the lower 48. The fact that there is no resident Grizzlies in this range makes the hike a little less stressful.
The Double Wide Road For The First 4 Miles 

We started off the hike at 11:30am. The first mile was on a double wide rocky road. We got to the actual trailhead and the double wide continued for the next 3 miles. The trail has a slight grade of 500 feet during this time and meanders along a pine forest with views of Cottonwood Creek occasionally.

At about 4 miles the trail comes to a Y....take the trail to the left that goes directly uphill. If you get confused the right side of the Y goes to a Private Property sign and has a little cabin up the hill. The trail climbs 1500 vertical in the next 2 miles. Sometimes the trail is hard to follow, just look for the rock cairns and you will be alright. Make sure you take in the surroundings as your puffing for air, you can see the distant Bridger Range at points along the trail.
The Bridgers In The Distance 

You do have to ford the creek 1-2 times so be careful if you are hiking during spring run off. We got to a few Beaver Ponds in route to the lake....unfortunately for me they were already frozen! So much for fishing.
Frozen Beaver Ponds......They Looked Fishy

We finally arrived at the Lake in a little under 3 hours of hiking. The views are spectacular and there are some good campsites around the lake, this would make for a great backpacking trip. I did fish for 30 minutes but didn't see any fish, they must of been laying in the depths of the lake. I've heard there are Yellowstone Cutties in here.
The View From About 7500 feet 
Started Running Into Snow At The Top 

After chilling out for awhile we decided to venture back down to the truck. 12 miles round trip with about 2,000 feet of vertical gain......an awesome hike that doesn't see many people.....a must do!
The Reward For 2,000 Feet Of Vertical Gain 


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