Montana Hiking Trails

Heather Lake and Emerald Lake- Gallatin Range

Heather Lake and Emerald Lake- Gallatin Range

Heather Lake

Heather Lake and Emerald Lake are two beautiful subalpine lakes that lie between Mount Chisolm and Overlook Mountain. These lakes are popular attractions in Hyalite Canyon, making the trail busy most of the year. Mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders, and even dirt bike riders enjoy the East Fork Hyalite Creek Trail during its peak season (July 15th-September 4th). The crowd on the trail shouldn’t distract you too much along this scenic trail, the waterfalls and towering geological wonders will pull your attention to the trail and force you to take a break. Starting at the trailhead, you are soon rewarded by one of these marvels.

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28 Jul 2018

History Rock Trail- Gallatin Range

History Rock Trail- Gallatin Range

History Rock, located in Hyalite Canyon

History Rock Trail is one of the few places where someone leaving a trace behind is acceptable. Settlers, old timers, and even a scout for George Custer all left their marks on this large outcropping, and it stands as a historical “guest book” of sorts, storing the names and dates of those who have passed along this trail. Located in Bozeman’s busy Hyalite Canyon, History Rock is a short 2.5-mile hike that is a perfect way to stretch your legs. Make sure to bring a camera along this hike– not only is the scenery beautiful, but the soft sandstone on History Rock won’t be along forever. This last reason alone should tell you that you should stop and hike along the quick trail to History Rock.

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23 Jul 2018

Gardner Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Gardner Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Gardner Lake

If you’re traveling along Highway 212 (The Beartooth Highway), and need a quick stop to stretch your legs, stop by Gardner Lake. This trailhead is one of the highest in the Beartooths, at 10,550 ft above sea level, so be prepared to be winded on this short trail. In addition to the altitude taking your breath away, the view certainly will as well. Gardner Lake sits at the bottom of a bowl, and the hike down to the lake allows you to see Tibbs Butte and Littlerock Creek. The scenery is beautiful any time of the year, but it’s wise to hike to Gardner Lake in the late summer, due to the rampant mosquitoes. Leaving the trailhead, and hiking straight down, your quick hike to Gardner Lake begins.

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12 Feb 2018

Fan Creek- Yellowstone National Park

Fan Creek- Yellowstone National Park

Fawn Pass Trailhead

Fan Creek is possibly the most popular hike along the Yellowstone National Park boundary. With the trailhead located just off of Highway 191, Fan Creek is a quick drive from West Yellowstone and Bozeman. It’s also an easy hike, gaining only 50 feet in the 1.2 miles to the junction with Fan Creek Trail. The fishing along Fan Creek is great any time of the year. The scenery certainly won’t disappoint, either. Since Fan Creek is this accessible and beautiful, it’s easy to see why Fan Creek is popular in the summer and winter.

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09 Feb 2018

Red Lodge Creek Trail- Beartooth Mountains

Red Lodge Creek Trail- Beartooth Mountains

Red Lodge Creek Trail #14

Red Lodge Creek Trail #14 is a quick day hike through a mature forest. This hike is mostly traveled by local residents, so the traffic is usually lighter than other day hikes near Red Lodge. The trail traffic is exceptionally light in the late fall (where about half of the upper trail is inaccessible), which makes Red Lodge Creek Trail a nice late season or early season day hiking trail. If you’re looking for the possibility of an uninterrupted day in the mountains, Red Lodge Creek Trail might have what you’re looking for.

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10 Nov 2017

Keyser Brown Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Keyser Brown Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Keyser Brown Lake

Keyser Brown Lake is a beautiful mountain lake that is easily accessible from Lake Fork Trail #1, in the Beartooth Mountains. This forested lake is at 8,700 feet, making it one of the easiest to access lakes along the Lake Fork Trail. The trail to Keyser Brown Lake only climbs 1,600 feet along the seven mile trail, which is what makes this lake so easy to reach. Keyser Brown Lake also excels as a base camp, supports a good brook trout fishery, and will help you escape the busy crowds on their way to Lost Lake. Leaving the paved parking lot, and crossing a sturdy bridge over the Lake Fork of Rock Creek, your trip to Keyser Brown Lake begins.

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27 Jul 2017

Grotto Falls- Gallatin Range

Grotto Falls- Gallatin Range

Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls, located in Bozeman’s scenic Hyalite Canyon, is a beautiful waterfall that can be reached within a half hour. Although the waterfall isn’t particularly tall, Grotto Falls makes up for that by its sheer volume. Hyalite Creek gushes over the falls into the pools below, creating perfect swimming holes to relax in after a hot day. Access to the falls is excellent, with the trail well groomed, and highly trafficked. Simply put, Grotto Falls should be on your must-see list if you are hiking towards Hyalite Lake, or even just in Hyalite Canyon for a day.

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02 Jul 2017

Palisade Falls- Gallatin Range

Palisade Falls- Gallatin Range

Palisade Falls

There are many hikes on this site that can last for days, test your physical strength, and require navigational skills to reach your intended destination. Fortunately, Palisade Falls is not one of those hikes. The hike to Palisade Falls is quite possibly the easiest hike I’ve ever written about. You don’t need a water bottle or a backpack for this hike, and you don’t even need hiking boots for this hike. Instead, Palisade Falls offers something that few trails do- accessibility for everyone. This short 1-mile out-and-back hike can be explored by toddlers, the elderly, and even people who require wheelchairs or crutches. Simply put, this is the easiest hike you’ll ever take, but don’t let this dissuade you from hiking the Palisade Falls Trail. The natural beauty that Palisade Falls provides will still awe you, even if the hike won’t.

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01 Jul 2017

Gallatin Petrified Forest Interpretive Trail- Gallatin Range

Gallatin Petrified Forest Interpretive Trail- Gallatin Range

Petrified Wood on the Gallatin Petrified Forest Interpretive Trail

If you’re interested in the geological forces that shaped the mountains outside of Yellowstone National Park, or simply enjoy viewing petrified wood and semi-precious gems, the Gallatin Petrified Forest Interpretive Trail is an amazing trail. Although this trail is short, it gains 625 feet of elevation along the way (most of it during the last half mile). This gives a great calf stretch on the way to Yellowstone National Park, and is an excellent introduction to Yellowstone’s unique geology. Once you’re ready to hike this beautiful interpretive trail, drive down Tom Miner Rd for a dusty 11 miles, and begin your quick geologic adventure.

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28 Jun 2017

Rat Lake- Gallatin Range

Rat Lake- Gallatin Range

Rat Lake

Rat Lake, located just outside of Bozeman, MT, is a day hike that attracts many hikers, anglers, and tourists. The quick hike, combined with the close proximity to Yellowstone, Bozeman, and Big Sky, draw in many locals and tourists each year. The high traffic on this hike shouldn’t discourage you, though. Anglers will appreciate the trout fishing, hikers will be encouraged to hike further down the trail, and tourists will love the quick chance to stretch their legs. This trail even offers a chance to stay overnight in a US Forest cabin- Rat Lake Trail #416 offers everyone a quick trip into the Gallatin Range.

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12 Jun 2017

Bacon Rind Creek- Yellowstone National Park

Bacon Rind Creek- Yellowstone National Park

Bacon Rind Creek

If you’re looking for a quick day hike near West Yellowstone with beautiful scenery, look no further than Bacon Rind Creek. This short hike is great for small kids and adults alike, since the trail gains only a little over 300 feet in 2 ½ miles. Hikers looking for an adventure shouldn’t be worried about the trail’s easy grade– just because this is an easy hike it shouldn’t turn you away from Bacon Rind Creek, this grassy valley harbors some of Yellowstone’s famous wildlife; bears, moose, and rainbow trout all thrive in this valley. Once you’ve found the trailhead (refer to the directions below), you can begin this quick hike.

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20 Dec 2016

Tepee Pass- Yellowstone National Park

Tepee Pass- Yellowstone National Park

Tepee Pass

Tepee Pass is a scenic day hike that is located just barely outside of Yellowstone National Park, and although the trail isn’t technically in the park, you can still see vistas of the park and the surrounding mountain ranges. Tepee Pass provides one of those rare moments when you can see two mountain ranges in all of their glory- the Gallatin Range to your left and right, and the Madison Range in front of you. While you’re on this hike, you also have the opportunity to see some of Yellowstone’s famous wildlife- bears, moose, and deer. If you’re not afraid of hiking up a large hill, the hike up to Tepee Pass is worth your time.

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29 Nov 2016

Pioneer Falls- Madison Range

Pioneer Falls

Pioneer Falls

Tumbling 40 feet into a narrow gorge, Falls Creek creates the dramatic display that is known as Pioneer Falls. Pioneer Falls is mesmerizing to watch, as gallon upon gallon of pristine water tumbles its way towards the southern fork of Spanish Creek. Standing here, you have to appreciate the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, and the need for wilderness areas in this country. To be humbled by nature’s creation, you only have to hike a few miles from civilization. Many trail guides list this hike as a 7.5 mile hike, but that is not correct- the hike to the falls is only 3 miles, making the total trip length 6 miles.

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07 Nov 2016

Becker Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Becker Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Becker Lake

For a quick hike to a beautiful mountain lake that’s near Cooke City, there’s no better place than Becker Lake. The trail to Becker Lake is a bit lengthy at 9 miles, but the flat trail and numerous nearby lakes will work hard to help you overlook the distance. These 9 miles are also the flattest in the Beartooth Mountains, making the hike to Becker Lake a perfect hike for kids, and older adults. As such, you can expect to see other hikers on this trail. Thankfully, a few extra hikers won’t detract from the alpine beauty of this hike.

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27 Aug 2016

Echo Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Echo Lake

Echo Lake

Echo Lake is a picturesque mountain lake that is just off The Beaten Path, a common hiking trail in the Beartooth Mountains. While Echo Lake is located only a mile from this popular trail, hundreds of hikers pass by it on the way to nearby Duggan Lake, or Big Park Lake. Echo Lake does offer something that these other two lakes don’t: the chance for solitude. The hike there is easy enough, the trail is well established, there are plenty of campsites, and the fishing is good. To put it simply, there are plenty of reasons why you should visit Echo Lake. You can reach Echo Lake via the Clarks Fork Trailhead or the East Rosebud Trailhead, both of which offer some of the best scenery in the Beartooth Mountains.

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07 Aug 2016

The Beaten Path- Beartooth Mountains

The Beaten Path- Beartooth Mountains

Scenery Along The Beaten Path

The Beaten Path is the name given to a route that runs 26 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Beartooth Mountains. The Beaten Path leads by cascading waterfalls, alpine lakes, towering peaks, and lush forests. The fishing is also excellent on this trip, with many of the lakes stocked with hungry rainbow and cutthroat trout. The first obstacle with this hike is figuring out the logistics- this hike can be hiked two different ways, and both ways require special transportation considerations.

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27 Jul 2016

Margaret Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Margaret Lake

Margaret Lake

If you’re seeking a lake less than 3 miles from a popular trailhead, while at the same time looking for isolation from others, look no further than Margaret Lake. Although the trail isn’t as easy to follow as others (the last quarter mile is hard to follow at times), the fishing and solitude more than make up for the quarter mile of stumbling though brush. Located just a few minutes from Cooke City, you’ll pass many hikers on the way into Margaret Lake, but you’ll be almost guaranteed solitude once you arrive at the lake. This trail does lead through an area that is notorious for its bear population, so be sure that you know how to safely hike in bear country, before you leave the trailhead. This hike starts from the busy Clarks Fork Trailhead, easily accessible from Highway 212.

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19 Jul 2016

Vernon Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Vernon Lake

Vernon Lake

Located just 2 ½ miles from the Clarks Fork trailhead, Vernon Lake is a perfect day hike for travelers on their way to Cooke City, or Yellowstone National Park. The trail gains very little elevation, and offers the opportunity to see wildlife such as deer, moose, and yes- bears. Finding the trailhead is incredibly easy, since it is both well signed, and next to Highway 212. Although you’ll pass many hikers on the first mile of this hike, once you turn onto the Vernon Lake trail, the traffic diminishes greatly. Another feature of this trail is a side trip to the Flume Trail at the beginning of the hike, which offers an educational opportunity about the now-defunct hydroelectric dam that was built in 1916. This “trail” is wheelchair accessible, while of course the hike to Vernon Lake is not.

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11 Jul 2016

Avalanche Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Avalanche Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake lies beneath Montana’s highest mountain, Granite Peak, and is fed by melting snow and ice from Granite Glacier, giving the lake a beautiful teal color. What sets Avalanche Lake apart from the many lakes in the area isn’t its beauty, or its population of cutthroat trout, but the towering mass of rock above it- Granite Peak. Each year, hundreds of climbers tackle Granite Peak, usually with success. Although most climbers prefer to use the Froze to Death Plateau route, the Avalanche Lake route offers the best scenery and fishing. If you’re looking for a challenging route to Granite Peak, or for excellent fishing, Avalanche Lake will not disappoint.

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30 Jun 2016

Easy Day Hikes in the Beartooth Mountains

Easy Day Hikes in the Beartooth Mountains

The Beartooth Mountains in early June

If you’re looking for a quick hike in the wilderness, the Beartooth Mountains have much to offer. Located near the busy towns of Billings, Red Lodge, and Cooke City, the Beartooth Mountains are a popular destination for day hikers that want to only spend only a few hours in the wild. For those hikers, here is a short list of popular day hikes- most within the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

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19 Jun 2016