Hidden Montana: Pine Creek Lake and Black Mountain 

The secret: Keep climbing when others turn back to reach the lake-filled foreground—or the top—of this steep, dark-mountain castle.

Our Apps

Map Tools

Share Trip
  • E-mail Trip
  • Embed Map
  • Social Bookmarks
    more bookmarks...

Download To

Create a Trip
* Requires a Trip Planner or Elite Membership
Author: themapeditor
Date: 26 Apr 2013 8:52:11 PM
Source: GPX file
Activity: Not Specified
State: Montana (MT)
Distance: 5.91 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 5561 ft
Total Loss: 275 ft
Net Change: 5286 ft
Difficulty: 5 / 10
USGS Topo Map: Mt. Cowen, MT
Tags: Montana, Pine Creek
Rating: Unrated   Rate it


The image of this craggy, 10,941-foot peak reflects on Pine Creek Lake, the mountain’s 32-acre pond set amid granite slabs. Don’t be fooled by the busy trailhead; most folks turn back at Pine Creek Falls, a mile in. The 4.4-mile, 3,400-vertical-foot approach to the lake means you’ll find isolated camp spots at the water’s edge, with plenty of solitude anytime but the busiest holiday weekends. Ascending Black Mountain itself makes for either a hardcore dayhike (from the trailhead) or a mellower overnight (from a camp on Pine Creek Lake). The summit push, another 1,900 vertical feet in 1.5 miles, is easiest in early summer (July), when corn snow still covers the route’s boulders. Pack an ice axe, gloves, and crampons for the straightforward, 35-degree snow gully—or trekking poles, stout boots, and good knees for a late-season climb—and turn south at tiny Jewel Lake, .1 mile north of Pine Creek Lake. From there, climb the snow- or talus-filled gully west of Black Mountain’s main bulk, and top out on the ridge after 1,300 vertical feet. Scan the neighboring peaks for bighorn sheep and mountain goats. To navigate around a cliff band, traverse southeast to an obvious drop-off above the second arm of the Y-shaped couloir that plunges to the north. Backtrack 20 paces, then drop 50 vertical feet off the ridge’s south side, and traverse to regain the now-broad summit ridgeline and stroll to the summit.

TO TRAILHEAD: 15 miles south of Livingston; 45.497510, -110.518727

Position Format: Datum:


Distance: 5.91 mi Points: 1475
Total Time: -1:-18:-17 Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Points of Interest


Location: 45.497510, -110.518727
Trailhead. Hike southeast on Trail 47.


Location: 45.485929, -110.466300
Pine Creek Lake


Location: 45.485359, -110.469065
The Black Mountain standard route starts heads south, climbing 1,900 feet in 1.5 miles.


Location: 45.475291, -110.473855
Black Mountain ridgeline.


Location: 45.472664, -110.468378
Black Mountain summit ledge. Backtrack 20 paces then drop 50 feet off the ridge's south side ot avoid the ledge.


Location: 45.471309, -110.466375
Black Mountain (10,941 ft)

Comparable Trips

Comments  Post a comment
0 Trip Comments