My co-worker and I hiked up Basin Lakes Trail a few weeks ago. I’ve done a lot of hiking this spring but this was the first hike I went on that was an actual workout! I enjoy getting my butt kicked on the trail so I don’t have to workout after I hike. I would rate this trail as moderate, hard if you are out of shape, because you gain almost 2000 feet. It’s about 5 miles total to the first lake and 8 miles total to the second one.
The trail starts near Red Lodge, plenty of parking and a very clean out house at the trail head (bring hand sanitizer!). The beginning on the hike is quite the climb, well most of the trail is a climb, but you quickly come up on a creek and waterfall. The trail winds, a few switch backs at first, then follows the creek. Great hike for dogs because there is plenty of water. The views at the top of the switch backs, before you are start heading back into the mountain, are phenomenal. There are plenty of places to stop along the trail and take breaks, which is nice because this trail is said to be busy on the weekends. We went on a week day and most people were just hitting the trail about 3pm as we were heading back down.
Eventually, after more climbing and longer switch backs you reach the first lake. I think you gain about 1500 of the 2000 feet of elevation by the first lake. It’s absolutely beautiful and worth the burning quads. The first lake is crystal clear and less windy than the second lake, which I liked for taking photos of reflections!
“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”
If you continue on a little, in search of the second lake, you will reach a small pond. For whatever reason this pond had the most bugs. I’m sure later in the year this dries up.
If you continue on you will reach the second bigger lake. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow for the most part. At the first lake stay to the left side of the lake and continue back. It was pretty cold and windy at the top the day we went but I’m sure later in the year the lake is a great place to relax, fish, and swim. You could definitely camp - we saw a few fire pits. We had a little picnic lunch by the lake then headed back down. Because the trail is mostly uphill to the lake, the way back down is a breeze!