Calamity and Sentinel Falls (4.0 miles)

Calamity Falls

SUMMARY:  The hike to the outstanding cascade like Calamity Falls and Sentinel Falls is through a new growth forest following the Cascade Fire of 2008.  The hiker is continuously within sight or sound of the rushing waters of the West Fork of Rock Creek.  The trail to Calamity Falls and Sentinel Falls begins at the end of West Fork Road approximately 12.7 miles from HWY 212 and Red Lodge, MT.  There is ample parking and basic facilities available at the trail head.   The trail is easy to follow and gains approximately 350 feet in elevation. Pack your lunch and linger by the falls. Don’t forget your camera. The Trail is restricted to foot and horse travel.

RATING: Easy Hike, approximately 4.0 miles with only 350 feet of elevation gain. Make sure to take appropriate clothing, including rain gear. The weather and temperatures can change suddenly. The last 5.7 miles of the drive to the trailhead are on a rough gravel road.

Sentinel Falls

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO HIKE: Mid June until late September or early October.  The Beartooth Ranger District Office is located on Highway 212 on the south side of Red Lodge. For up to date information, either stop in the Ranger District Office or telephone: (406) 446-2103

AMOUNT OF TIME NEEDED: Allow 30 minutes each way for the drive from Red Lodge to the West Fork Trailhead. While very fit hikers might complete the roundtrip in 2 ½ to 3 hours, including a brief stop at the falls, why rush?

DIRECTIONS TO THE TRAIL HEAD: From Red Lodge, Montana, drive south on State Hwy 212 (Broadway in Red Lodge.)  On the south side of Red Lodge, watch for the sign for Red Lodge Mountain Ski Resort and turn west (right) on West Fork Road and follow it for 12.7 miles until it ends at the West Fork Trail Head.  The last 5.7 miles is unpaved.

DETAILS:

  1. From the West Fork Trail Head, head west on Trail #1 West Fork Trail.  100′ after starting the trail splits stay left on Trail #1 West Fork Trail (1.4 miles.)
  2. Turn left on an unmarked trail that heads out to Calamity Falls.  You will be able to hear the falls as you approach (0.1 miles.)
  3. Enjoy Calamity Falls.
  4. Return to Trail #1 West Fork Trail via the unmarked trail.
  5. Turn left (west) on Trail #1 West Fork Trail until you arrive at Sentinel Falls (0.5 miles.)  The trail has a small elevation gain just as it comes out on a small ridge beside the falls.
  6. Enjoy Sentinel Falls.
  7. Return to the parking area on Trail #1 West Fork Trail.

Calamity Falls

BONUS: You can continue on Trail #1 West Fork Trail for another 0.7 miles passing more cascades and arriving at a beautiful plateau.  2.0 miles after Sentinel Falls is Quinnebaugh Meadows and beyond the trail passes lakes and intersects with other high mountain trails.  After Sentinel Falls the trail goes back into lush old growth forest that was not damaged in the Cascade Fire.

GPS Coordinates of intersection of Trail #1 West Fork Trail and unmarked trail to Calamity Falls
 45°9’43.51″N
 109°31’16.74″W
 
GPS Coordinates of Calamity Falls
 45° 9’42.10″N
 109°31’17.98″W
 
GPS Coordinates of Sentinel Falls
 45° 9’23.45″N
109°31’42.81″W