Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Black Hills National Forest: The Bearlodge Mountains

Last night after work Noelle and I packed up our camping gear, some extra clothing, and toothbrushes for our first real road trip of the season. We weren’t headed too far, just across the Wyoming border into the Bearlodge Mountains portion of Black Hills National Forest. It felt good to be out on the road and we made it to our campsite in the Reuter Campground just before dark.
After setting up camp and crawling into the tent it started to rain. Seems like rain is all it’s done lately.

We woke up to some light rain, but soon it let up. We drove back into Sundance, Wyoming for some information at the Forest Service offices there. I wanted to get info about the trails at Cook Lake and Sundance. I also wanted to get some contact information about Inyan Kara Mountain. After that was done we drove back into the mountains and started our hike of Carson Draw. The hike followed what seemed like old ATV trails. The scenery and views were good,
but we soon got into some areas where logging was going on. That cut our hike short a bit.

Next we headed over to Warren Peak, the highest point in the Bearlodge Mountains, and site of a fire tower.
Warren Peak Lookout
It was cold and windy up there. It was also obvious that rain was in the forecast. From there we drove north through an amazing clone of aspens to Cook Lake, our campsite for the night, and home to some short hiking trails. We paid for our campsite, and then hit the trail. We hiked the Cliff Swallow Trail. It was a pretty walk especially the portion that paralleled Beaver Creek. Unfortunately, we got caught in a heavy downpour halfway through the hike. When we returned to the campground we set up camp, and then rested.

The best part of the day was the evening. The storms from earlier in the day had dissipated and the scene was beautiful. I made a small dinner, and then we went for a short hike along Cook Lake.
We took our time hiking and were rewarded by several wildlife views. We saw deer, a beaver, a muskrat, and several different interesting bird species including a merganser, a common yellowthroat, and some great blue herons. It was a great way to end the day. 

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