Montana Hiking Trails

Leverich Canyon – Gallatin Range

Leverich Canyon

Leverich Canyon – Gallatin Range

Leverich Canyon

Leverich Canyon

Just outside of Bozeman, MT, Leverich Canyon Trail is a moderate 5 ½ mile hike. Bikes are allowed and recommended on this trail, and you will see many. 90% of the traffic on this trail is dominated by bikes, and the trail offers generous curves and slopes that mountain bikers will love riding down. For hikers, the gradual ascent, followed by generous curves, make this trail perfect for a moderate hike. You can also explore a bit of history on this trail, the loop leads by a long-forgotten mining camp. If you do decide to hike this trail instead of riding it on a bike, be prepared for a good workout.

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11 Jun 2020

Langohr Creekside Trail: Gallatin Range

Langohr Creekside Trail: Gallatin Range

Langohr Creekside Trail

At the northern end of the Langohr Campground lies one of the easiest trails in Hyalite Canyon. If you thought that Palisade Falls was a quick stroll into the forest, the .3 miles of Langohr Creekside Trail offer just enough trail to settle your stomach after a campfire meal and is also a good choice for the elderly or toddlers. Most of the people that hike this trail are campers at Langohr Campground, giving you a unique opportunity to greet some of your neighbors, and exchange pleasantries. For a leisurely walk next to Hyalite Creek, pull into the spacious parking area and head down the trail.

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25 Feb 2020

South Cottonwood Creek Trail: Gallatin Range

South Cottonwood Creek Trail: Gallatin Range

South Cottonwood Creek Trail

South Cottonwood Creek Trail runs through the heart of a network of trails just outside of Bozeman.  Although there are numerous side trips and options that you have on South Cottonwood Creek Trail, the most popular option is a quick and scenic day hike through the forest, crossing over three bridges that lead over South Cottonwood Creek.  This quick hike is popular, while being relatively short– it is only 2 ½ miles to the third bridge.  That being said, most day hikers prefer to spend less time on this trail and only hike along it for one or two miles.  Regardless of which option you choose, the trail begins at the end of Cottonwood Creek Road.

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18 Feb 2020

Whits Lakes: Gallatin Range

Whits Lakes: Gallatin Range

North Whits Lake

Whits Lakes, or Whits Lake, is a pair of small lakes located north of Hebgen Lake and just outside of Yellowstone National Park. Since the descriptions of these two bodies of water is somewhat confusing (some maps refer to them as Whits Lake, whereas others refer to the lakes as north or south Whits Lake) in this guide I’ll refer to them as separately as north or south Whits Lake. Now that we have that bit of confusion cleared up, let’s dive into the hike itself. Although the trail is only 2 miles round-trip, it allows you to escape the crowds of Yellowstone and explore the Gallatin National Forest. For big game hunters, Whits Lake is especially popular in the fall, which is also when I prefer to hike this trail.

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04 Feb 2020

Moser Creek to Buckskin Creek Loop

Moser Creek to Buckskin Creek Loop

Buckskin Creek Meadow

This is a difficult hike to name since the hike runs along both Moser and Buckskin Creeks in Hyalite Canyon. Some guides refer to this hike as the Moser Creek Loop, while others stick to the more accurate name of Moser Creek to Buckskin Creek Loop. This trail has many side options to change the length of the trail, but the hike as described in this guide is an easy 5-mile loop. Along this trail, you will have plenty of opportunities to view wildlife or search for garnets and fossils. The Moser Creek to Buckskin Creek Loop is less popular than some of its neighbors in Hyalite Canyon, such as Heather Lake or Palisade Falls , making it one of the few day hikes that may allow you to spend most of the hike by yourself.

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27 Jan 2020

The Beartooth Recreational Trail: Beartooth Mountains

The Beartooth Recreational Trail: Beartooth Mountains

The Beartooth Recreational Trail leads through some of the most scenic country in the Beartooth Mountains. Three different trailheads form an approximately 9 ¼ mile long loop, running by beautiful lakes and scenic alpine vistas– all of which are within a day hike of the Beartooth Highway. The Beartooth Recreational Trail gives a hiker many options; the three different trailheads allow you to choose your own adventure. You can make this trail a classic lollipop loop, a shuttle, or a true loop. Your options are numerous, which also makes this trail a good trail to get lost on.

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17 Aug 2019

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- Hyalite Canyon in Bozeman, MT

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