Directions to Trailhead: From Big Timber, travel north on US 191 – 11 miles to the well-marked access to Big Timber Canyon Road via Wormser Road. Follow the road to its end at the Halfmoon Picnic Area and Campground. This is a well-traveled road with little maintenance so it is a rough and slow trip. The scenic view all along the way and the hiking is well worth the travel. This is affirmed by the number of vehicles you will see in the parking lot.
Travel Time to Trailhead: Depending upon how and what you drive and how hard you are on what you drive it can take 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours from Big Timber to the trail head. WARNING: ROUGH ROAD LAST 2 MILES
What to bring:
Camping Supplies (optional)
Hike to Cascade or Pear Lakes
Camp at Halfmoon Campground or a lake
Hike Distance: 9 miles round trip
FIRST STOP: UPPER BIG TIMBER FALLS
Directions to Falls: Not far from the trailhead on your hike to Blue Lake you will come to a Y in the trail and a tree maker for Big Timber Falls. It is a quarter of a mile detour to the falls and an awesome way to start your hike.
SECOND STOP: BLUE LAKE
Directions to Lake: From Upper Big Timber Falls return to the main trail and continue in the direction of Blue Lake. This is an absolutely breathtaking hike. The lakes seemingly just a bonus compared to the rugged Crazy Mountains that seem to extend endlessly into the sky. Along the way, you also cross two bridges, both very modern infrastructure as well as encounter a really neat old railroad car bridge. These provide an awesome spot for photo ops. Hard to believe at one time this hiking trail was a road. A road that went many miles into mining claims. The hike through the bottom of the canyon and around the base of Granite Peak is a decent uphill stroll until you get to the rockslide (pictured). From there it is uphill and steep for the rest of the way. I can’t begin to imagine the first journey into the lakes to cut in the trail. The views as you ascend out of the bottom of the canyon are awe inspiring.
Be sure you watch the weather for the days you plan to be in. You can see once the clouds come you are pretty well socked in. The day we hiked the trail it started pouring about ten minutes after we got back to the truck.
Upon reaching the top of the rock slide you walk by two unnamed lakes and an older cabin before you start your descent into Blue Lake.
THIRD STOP: GRANITE LAKE
We didn’t drop into Granite Lake because we wanted to allow time to find Thunder Falls but it looks to be a great hike from the overlook. You will come to a Y in the trail once you pass the unnamed lakes and old cabin. Vear west to go to Granite Lake or stay on the main trail headed south/southeast to Blue Lake.
This cabin is in really rough shape but has round nails. Without square nails how old could it be?
FINAL STOP: THUNDER LAKE & THUNDER FALLS
Directions to Falls: Follow the trail to Blue lake. Once at Blue lake travel around the east edge to Thunder Lake. There is a beaten path close to the water but you will have to scale some rocks. The maps we have show Thunder Lake far below Blue Lake but that is not the case. Thunder Lake is much like a continuation of Blue Lake with a short stream between them. You will know you are at the top of the falls when you get there and you look off. From here caution is of the utmost. You will have to pick your way through the trees and rocks. Vantage spots are at a premium and not the safest over looks. It is a cool view but be careful!!!
One of the neat water falls in the Crazy Mountains, Thunder Falls are a sight to be seen. A little tougher to access than Big Timber Falls, they require some freelancing from Blue and Thunder Lakes. Don’t let the other blog posts scare you though. It isn’t too difficult to reach the falls. The side trip took us about an hour from the time we reached the south end of Blue Lake till the time we got back. About a one mile hike round trip.