Maybe the reason so few people know about the upland beauty here is the ordinary approach. But a few miles into this 12.2-mile (round-trip) overnight trek, the scenery begins: tranquil ponds, rolling meadows, and a treeline view of the vast, open ridgelines of Homer Youngs Peak. Let most people be fooled; you’ll share this spot with elk and black bears instead. Start where Trail 187 leaves the Upper Miners Lake Road (the second unsigned two-track that climbs north after Miners Lake Campground). At mile 1.9, trace the brook upstream along a faint trail (402) for 1.4 miles to reed-filled Kelly Lake, set in a subalpine cirque surrounded by gray cliffs. Round the lake to the south and climb another 1.4 miles up the Kelly Creek drainage as evergreens shrink and views grow, making toward a saddle due east of Heart Lake. The entire timberline region here offers scenic camping, accessible water, and enough evidence of black bears to make food canisters a good idea. To add a summit view to your trip, go off-trail atop the rocky ridgeline at mile 4.8. After 1.3 miles and 1,200 vertical feet of class 2 talus, you’ll earn a view across the wrinkled topography of the Continental Divide. If water is more your scene, descend a steep boulder slope to Heart Lake.
TO TRAILHEAD: 121 miles southwest of Butte; 45.308164, -113.603904