Located within the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness of Custer Gallatin National Forest, Charlie Falls is only one of the many beautiful water features along East Rosebud Creek in Montana’s Carbon County.
With approximately ten other waterfalls within a four-mile radius, Charlie Falls occupies one of the most extravagant corners of the national forest and offers guests plenty of hiking, camping, and fishing opportunities throughout its fantastical landscapes.
Charlie Falls, Carbon County Stats
- Elevation: 8380 feet
- Longitude: -109.72448
- How to Get There: From Roscoe, follow East Rosebud Road for approximately 14.3 miles to the East Rosebud Trailhead. From here, follow the Beaten Path Trail for several miles until you arrive at the falls.
Bring your hiking shoes when planning a trip to Charlie Falls, Montana. Only accessible on foot, the journey to the landmark can only be engaged from the long and challenging Beaten Path Trail.
Situated about halfway between the two trailheads, the hike to Charlie Falls is approximately 25 miles, whether completed as an out-and-back trail or done point to point.
For this reason, it is recommended to make the hike point to point in order to see everything the region offers, including several additional waterfalls.
Visitors to the falls should note the seasonal trail is only open during the late summer, typically around August and September.
This is because seasonal flooding can result in the majority of the path being overcome by the expanded East Rosebud Creek, making it impassable during the early summer months.
Charlie Falls is surrounded by several beautiful lakes and creeks filled with fantastic fishing opportunities.
In East Rosebud Creek, visitors to the falls can engage with the tranquil ambiances of the landmark while casting their lines in waters rich with native species that include Longnose Dace, Longnose Sucker, Mountain Whitefish, and the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.
For lake fishing, both the nearby Big Park Lake and Duggan Lake offer fantastic Golden Trout and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout fishing sites.
Regardless of visitors’ choice of fishing sites, anglers should be aware that as the official Montana State Fish, Cutthroat Trout are protected within the state and must be released when caught.
Serviced campsites are non-existent in the center of Custer Gallatin National Forest, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of opportunities for spending the night dispersed camping in the preservation’s backcountry.
With plenty of water access along the East Rosebud Creek, the Beaten Path Trail features plenty of fantastic areas for setting up camp along your hike to the landmark.
The Beaten Path Trail from the East Rosebud Trailhead
From the East Rosebud Trailhead to the south of Roscoe, Visitors to Charlie Falls will begin their hike along the Beaten Path Trail, following the East Rosebud Creek to the south.
Following the path for approximately 9.3 miles, hikers will pass by iconic landmarks such as Rimrock Falls, Rainbow Lake, and Lake at the Falls before finally arriving at Charlie Falls.
While it is possible to head back to the East Rosebud Trailhead at this point and complete the hike as an 18.6-mile out and back trail, visitors to the falls are encouraged to continue along the path for an additional 16.7 miles to the Clark’s Fork Trailhead.
The hike along the entirety of the Beaten Path Trail is a 26-mile hike with a total elevation gain of 1,014 m when completed in a North to South direction and should only be engaged by more experienced hikers.
Clay Butte to the Beaten Path Trail
The route can be accessed in the opposite direction for a more leisurely hike along the Beaten Path Trail.
Approximately 16.7 miles from Charlie Falls, the Clark Fork Trailhead offers visitors to the landmark a further hike but also alleviates much of the walk’s strain by bypassing the elevation gain.
For this reason, starting from the southern trailhead is the optimal route to the waterfalls when engaging the entire 26-mile Beaten Path Trail. Although, when only planning on visiting the falls, the out and back route from the East Rosebud Trailhead remains the better of the two route options.