Topping out at over 12,080 feet, Mystic Mountain stands proudly amongst the giants of the Beartooth Range of Montana. Even though it is a ranking 12,000 foot peak, Mystic Mountain sees very few visitors due to its remote location, lying over 15 miles from the nearest wilderness access point. Many people will recognize this peak, however, as it lies just to the West of Montana's highest mountain, Granite Peak. As with most of the big peaks of the Beartooths, there are no trails or beaten routes to the summit of Mystic.
Most parties will take multiple days to climb this peak, beginning with a trek up the Mystic lake drainage (same access point as used for Granite Peak), then heading off trail up the lovely Huckleberry and Storm Lakes Valleys.
Many of Montana's Highest Peaks can be seen from the summit of Mystic, including Granite Peak to the East, and the trio of Glacier, Hidden, and Villard to the South.
Mystic Mountain is located in the Beartooth range of South-Central Mountana. The summit can be accessed from the West Rosebud Creek drainage (near Granite Peak's Mystic Lake trailhead). Thanks to Alan Ellis for the following directions.
The West Rosebud Trailhead is located approximately 80 miles southwest of Billings. To reach the trailhead, take the Columbus exit from Interstate 90, and take Montana Highway 78 through Absaroka and turn west (right) toward Fishtail (approximately 17 miles from Columbus).
From Fishtail, drive west and south for 1 mile, turn south (left) on West Rosebud Road. Follow this paved road for 6.3 miles until reaching a fork in the road and a large brown Forest Service sign. The sign will indicate West Rosebud Lake Road #72. Turn left here and follow the dirt road for 14 miles until reaching the trailhead for Granite Peak. This trailhead has toilet facilities, and a parking area where climbers can leave their cars.
From the Mystic Lake trailhead (Elevation 6580 ft) follow the well worn trail to Mystic Lake, where you will likely encounter many parties camping and fishing, or planning their ascent of Granite Peak (assuming you're climbing during the more reasonable months). Continue to the west end of Mystic Lake, where you will find a small foot-bridge over Huckleberry creak. This is the point where you will head off trail, following Huckleberry Creek through lush forested slopes to Huckleberry lake and onto Princess Lake. From here you will continue above tree line via either Cold or Snowball Lake to Lower Storm Lake. Head up the Storm Lakes drainage, from which you can tackle the Eastern Slopes of Mystic Mountain. Note that this is also the best access point for a non-technical climb of Granite Peak's Northwest Summit, officially ranked as the second highest summit in the state.
Mystic 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 (although most people do not bother). You must have a permit to cut live trees for firewood. No mechanized vehicles are allowed 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.
If you are considering climbing Wood during the winter or early spring you are advised to contact the Beartooth Ranger Station at (406) 446-2103 for the latest conditions and road closure information, although the Mystic Lake trailhead is generally kept open year round.
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 (although most people do not bother). You must have a permit to cut live trees for firewood.
Elevation of this Peak
Note that the USGS incorrectly lists the elevation of this peak as 12,063'. It clearly lies above the 12,080 foot contour, giving it an official height of 12,080+.
Call the Beartooth Ranger Station at (406) 446-2103 for latest mountain conditions.
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