Mystic Fish  LbNA # 55508

OwnerHalf Empty    
Placed DateSep 5 2010
LocationFishtail, MT
Found By
Last Found
Hike Distance?

This letterbox can be found at the end of a nice day hike in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. The hike takes you to Mystic Lake - the largest lake in the Beartooths. It's a natural lake, though it's size is somewhat swelled by the hydro-electric dam that was constructed at the lake's end in the 1920s, before the area became a National Forest.

I'm going to go ahead and copy and paste in directions to the trailhead, which is the West Rosebud Trailhead (I've only taken backroads from Red Lodge to get here - too confusing to write out). If you are an experienced mountineer/climber/alpine camper, this trail continues past Mystic Lake to Granite Peak, the tallest mountain peak in Montana. Can't say I've been there myself.

The trail to Mystic is about 7 miles roundtrip and is well-marked. It is at a moderately high elevation and is at least partially rock-covered. Please be aware the that weather in this area can change incredibly fast, particularly in the fall, though you can get snowed on almost year round here. It's not unusual for the temperature to drop 20-30 degrees in a matter of minutes at the lake (happened to us on the day I planted the box), so dress accordingly.

---- Directions to Trailhead ----

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) to the West Rosebud Road. The West Rosebud Trailhead is the most popular starting spot for climbers attempting Granite Peak. Watch for the sign for West Rosebud Lake, approximately 2 miles down the road, and turn left. Follow this rough and graveled road for 14 miles to the West Rosebud Trailhead, which is on the left. The trailhead has toilet facilities, and a parking area where climbers can leave their cars.

The trail actually begins up the road about 200 yards, and is reached by walking through the Montana Power Company facilities where the trailhead is clearly marked with a Forest Service sign.

---- Directions to Box ----

OK, so you've made it to the lake. Whew. It will make your heart almost explode if you do it fast. Now that you're at the lake find the beach. You can't miss it. It's the largest natural sand beach in the Beartooths (can't be too many of those!). From the beach pretend it's time to leave, though your legs might not be ready to climb that ridge just yet. As you begin your ascent up the trail you just came down, walk up three stone "stairs" embedded into the trail. Now take a few more steps up the path, stop and take a look to your right. You'll see a small patch of trees. Reach under the trees to pull the box out from a hollow/overhang created by a medium-sized rock. Please rehide properly! For the first finder I picked the most atrocious thing I had in my tackle box - I can promise that it will never catch a fish around here!

This box is dedicated to the Rainbow Trout, who has provided me with many enjoyable days in the Beartooths. Mystic Lake has a good population of rainbows, though they can be frustrating to catch, especially when it's windy. If you strike out at Mystic try the lower lakes (Rosebud and Emerald) or even along the small river you'll hike along early on the trail - it has some lovely little trout holes to flyfish.

Also note that there are several geocaches in the area if you haven't met your daily quota of Happy Meal toys yet.