After a few miles in the Beartooth Mountains' plateau country, a pattern seems to emerge — oh, look, another picture-perfect mountain lake, another beautiful stand of wildflowers, another sweeping mountain view — rinse and repeat.
Even among that, Echo Lake stands out.
The area can be accessed relatively easily from the Island Lake trailhead or Beauty Lake trailhead, both in Wyoming. Follow the Highline Lakes Trail west from Beauty's north side, crossing several streams and steep ridges.
Choose from one of two outlet stream drainages to climb north to Echo Lake, which lies well off the main trail. There's no good trail up the drainages, but the footing is manageable. If you hit Claw Lake, you've gone too far west.
Look back for stunning views of the Absaroka Mountains rising to the south before emerging into Echo's outlet. Lonesome Mountain rises prominently alongside the sweeping ridge that eventually peaks in Spirit Mountain.
A special bonus for anglers is that Echo harbors cutthroat trout, a welcome change from the brook trout stronghold found in most other lakes and streams of the region. In early July so many fish packed a shallow outlet stream that crossing on rocks created something of a lawn sprinkler as spooked fish splashed away.
Camp spots are available all around the lake, though pervasive puddles mean that mosquitoes are abundant. The off-trail nature of the lake can make it a good place to escape crowds — or at least what passes for crowds in the Beartooths.
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