Mount Rearguard is the highest point on the massive Hellroaring Plateau in Montana's Beartooth Mountain Range, and one of only 27 ranked peaks in the state to rise over 12,000 feet. The peak can be accessed from a number of different directions, with the easiest routes being little more than long walks. Excellent ski descents can be found from Rearguard during the Winter and Spring months.
Mount Rearguard made the news in August of 1998, when a small aircraft crashed into the western slopes of the mountain at approximately 11,900 feet, killing the pilot. The plane was thought to be enroute from Wells, Nevada to Minot, North Dakota.
Mount Rearguard is located in the Beartooth range of South-Central Mountana. One can access the mountain from either the Lake Fork or Rock Creek valleys. No trails lead to the summit, so use your imagination. A quick look at a topographical map will reveal several possible options.
LAKE FORK TRAILHEAD
From the south side of Red Lodge, Montana, follow highway 212 South for approximately 11 miles. Before passing Black Pyramid Mountain, turn right onto the well-maintained road which leads past several cabins and into the Lake Fork Valley. Follow this road for 2 miles to the trailhead. A footbridge crosses Lake Fork Creek just beyond the end of the road to join the trail on the Creek's south side. This trail follows the Lake Fork, with the massive Hellroaring Plateau above you on the left hand side of the valley. Pick your own route to the top of the plateau (Rearguard is the high point of the plateau).
ROCK CREEK TRAILHEAD
Instead of turning just North of Black Pyramid mountain on highway 212, continue along the road for another mile or two and take the next right into Rock Creek Valley. There are several campgrounds along the first paved, then graveled, road leading up the Rock Creek Drainage. The last official campground (M-K) is several miles from the highway, but additional good camping spots can be found along the deteriorating road to the trailhead. The road heads WSW, just scraping into Northern Wyoming before turning back North into Montana. Pit toilets and a parking area can be found at the end of the road. From here, the trail heading up to Glacier Lake is a popular day hike. You will want to leave this trail shortly after the trailhead, with the aim of reaching the Hellroaring plateau which rises to your right. This trailhead is accessible to most 2WD vehicles.
Mount Rearguard is located in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Custer National Forest, Beartooth Ranger District. No fees are required to climb or camp. You are "requested" to check in with the Beartooth Ranger Station in Red Lodge or call (406) 446-2103 before climbing or camping in the back country (although most people do not bother). You must have a permit to cut live trees for firewood. No mechanized vehicles are allowed offroad in the wilderness area.
When To Climb
Summer climbing season is short in Montana. Late July through early September are the months that are most snow-free. However, expect some snow on the mountain any time of the year. Expect any type of weather any time of the year. Violent thunderstorms are a common daily occurance. Get an early start to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Storms develop very fast and tend to come from the south or west.
Rearguard can be climbed in the winter from either drainage. The road up the Lake Fork valley is closed with a gate approximately 0.5 miles from highway 212 in the winter. The road up Rock Creek, however, is never officially closed. Depending on snow conditions, your vehicle, and your nerves you may be able to get within two or three miles of the trailhead. You are advised to contact the Beartooth Ranger Station at (406) 446-2103 for the latest conditions and road closure information.
Camping is allowed anywhere within the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. You are "requested" to check in with the Beartooth Ranger Station in Red Lodge or call (406) 446-2103 before camping in the back-country (although most people do not bother). You must have a permit to cut live trees for firewood.
There are several excellent camping spots accessible by car along Rock Creek in addition to the official National Forest campgrounds.
Contact the Beartooth Ranger Station at (406) 446-2103 for the latest mountain conditions.
red_lodge.MT Conditions and Forecast
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