The 20 Best Backcountry Lakes: Rimrock, Rainbow, and Martin Lakes

Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Montana

Reach Rimrock Lake first on this 18-mile tour through the Beartooths. (Photo by

If you’re an angler, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Rimrock. If you’re an angler and a photographer, look no further than turquoise Rainbow Lake a little ways on. If you’re an angler, a photographer, and a peakbagger, you won’t be disappointed with Martin Lake, the exclamation point at the end of this 9-mile route through the High Lakes Region of the Beartooths. Set up camp at the end of the line in a meadow beside sapphire Martin, which is hemmed in by 12,000-footers. Stay awhile and make this tarn your staging area for summit missions. Or, swim out to the island. Or, cast a line for brookies and cutthroat. Or do all three. Don’t leave without bagging 12,083-foot Snowbank Mountain, though. “It’s the best side trip,” says Austin Hart, owner of Beartooth Mountain Guides. “It’s a nontechnical, class 3 scramble over boulder fields to a plateau-like summit with incredible mountain views.” To reach the lake trifecta, follow East Rosebud Trail for 7.5 miles to Rimrock, then another .5 to Rainbow. From there, hop on an unimproved path that climbs 600 feet over a mile to Martin.

Trailhead East Rosebud Lake Campground (45.199722, -109.63305) Season June through October Permits None Contact