The South Fork Grove Creek Trail near Red Lodge is a little bumpy in the approach, but a nice walk once you get there.
The dirt road from Red Lodge to the trailhead is only about 7.5 miles, but it is a slow drive. Most of the route is pretty good, but there are some rocky sections. And watch out for the cows that hang out in the road.
The trail is really a road that climbs steeply from the trailhead and parallels the South Fork of Grove Creek. The best part about this walk is the view of the Meeteetse Spirespart of the Palisades (a dramatic limestone formation). In fact, the trail goes right through the spires.
The road climbs through Douglas-firs, limber pines, and aspens. At the first junction (about 1 mile) stay to the right (you’ll come back this way) and continue for 1.7 miles from the trailhead to the remnants of an old rock structure near the creek.
Cross the creek and go left at the next junction, heading back towards the trailhead, making a lollipop loop.
History of the Meeteetse Trail
The Meeteetse Trail began as an Army supply trail in 1881 that started at Meeteetse, Wyoming came through Red Lodge and continued on to Coulson (now Billings). The road brought the first mail, supplies, and settlers the 100-mile distance from Meeteetse to Red Lodge and was originally called the 100 Mile Route. Several years after its opening, stagecoaches began to travel the Meeteetse regularly.
Details For Hiking South Fork Grove Creek
Getting To South Fork Deep Creek: From the south end of Red Lodge, turn left (east) onto Meeteetse Trail. Follow the dirt road 7.4 miles to a Y junction (.9 miles past North Fork Grove Creek access). Stay to the right .25 miles to a parking area.
Distance: 3.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
Best Hiking Guidebooks for the Beartooths
- Day Hikes in the Beartooth Mountains by Robert Stone
- Hiking the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness by Bill Schneider
- Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness East Map [Cooke City, Red Lodge] (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map, 722)
More On Red Lodge, Cooke City- Silver Gate, and the Beartooth Highway
- Visiting Red Lodge in Winter
- Summer Red Lodge Itinerary
- Hike the Silver Run Ski Trails, Red Lodge
- Hike South Fork Grove Creek, Red Lodge
- Playing and Staying in Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana
- Things To Do in Cooke City Montana in Winter
- Best Places to Stay Near Yellowstone National Park
- Things To Do Beyond Yellowstone’s Borders
- Explore the Beartooth Highway