The Best Hikes In The Bozeman Area

Local Blog Charlotte Durham August 30, 2023

 

The Best Hikes In The Bozeman Area

Bozeman is chock full of gorgeous hikes, many within a stone’s throw from town. You can even explore the series of trails that wind throughout the city, called, “Main Street to the Mountains.” Whether you’re looking for a laid-back stroll or a more strenuous outing, you’ll find something that’s perfect for you. In this article, you’ll find hikes organized into easy, moderate, and difficult categories.
 
You can find a great hike in any season in Bozeman. If you’re visiting in winter, most of the shorter and medium-length hikes are still accessible. Microspikes will make it easier to hike, and save you from slipping on ice. In late spring and early summer, you’ll be treated to wildflowers galore! Around Bozeman, expect them to be at their peak in June and July.
 
Don’t forget to bring bear spray, even on hikes close to town. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
 
 

EASY HIKES

Peets Hill

While more of a casual walk than a real hike, Peets Hill is still worth visiting for the beautiful views of town. You can easily make it a longer excursion by walking from downtown, which is a little less than a mile. The actual loop on Peets Hill is about a mile. After walking up a short hill, you’ll continue along a flat trail that loops back around with stunning views the entire way.
 
This jaunt is doable all year round, and is a prime spot for sunset viewing. Bring a friend and a picnic!
 

Drinking Horse Mountain Trail

At just over 2 miles, the short Drinking Horse Mountain Trail is a fun loop with plenty of picturesque mountain vistas. Take in views of Bridger Canyon and Gallatin Valley from the many benches along the way.
This trail gets its name as the mountain looks like a horse drinking from a creek. See if you agree!
 

The M

Although short, this trail packs a punch: you gain over 800 feet in elevation in less than a mile. However, you can also take a different route in case you’d like a more mellow hike. Signs at the bottom point to a more difficult way that’s straight up, or an easier one with a more gentle elevation gain.
 
If you do the loop (it’s the same hike, just whether you go up or down the steep side), this hike is about 1.5 miles. Once you get to the top, you’ll see the large whitewashed ‘M’ that’s visible from town.
 

Palisade Falls

No visit to Bozeman is complete without a stop at Hyalite Reservoir. Not only is it beautiful, but there’s plenty to explore – plus it’s home to one of the most popular Bozeman hikes, Palisade Falls.
 
This short hike, at just over a mile, has a beautiful waterfall at the end of it. The trail is paved, which makes it more accessible than some other hikes in the area. You can still visit in the winter, but the road to the trailhead closes when snow starts falling. You’ll add two miles to your trek because of the closure, but it’s worth it to see a frozen waterfall!
 
 

MODERATE HIKES

Triple Tree Trail

Triple Tree is a crowd favorite, with gorgeous views of town one side and a lush forest on the other. This 5.4 mile loop takes you through aspen groves, cascading creeks, pine forests, and wildflower-covered hillsides in June and July.
 
Because of all the aspens, this trail is a great place to visit in the fall!
 

South Cottonwood Creek Trail

You can make this out-and-back hike as short or as long as you’d like, but most people turn back at the 2.5-mile mark. This trail follows South Cottonwood Creek and features three bridge crossings.
 

Lava Lake Trail

Lava Lake is one of the most popular Bozeman hikes, so go early! This 5.5-mile hike is located in Gallatin Canyon, and is beautiful in any season. On hot days in the summer, you’ll be in for a treat: hop in the lake to cool off!
 
 

DIFFICULT HIKES

Storm Castle Peak Trail

This fun hike takes you to the top of Storm Castle, where you can look out (and take a photo) through the iconic rock arch. At just over 5 miles, this hike takes you through some beautiful views of the Gallatin River and mountains beyond.
 
In the winter, you’ll have to park further from the trailhead, which adds about 3 miles.
 

Sacajawea Peak

While this hike is only 4.5 miles, the almost 2,000 feet of elevation gain and exposure make it more difficult. It’s usually very windy at the peak here. Be on the lookout for mountain goats – they frequent the area and are an amazing sight to see!
 
Emerald Lake and Heather Lake Trail
You’ll find two beautiful lakes on this trail: Emerald Lake and Heather Lake, hence the trail name. At 10.5 miles and over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, expect this to take several hours. Plus, you’ll want to factor in some downtime at the lakes!
 

Baldy Mountain

If you’re up for a serious trek, plan to hike Baldy Mountain. This is one of the peaks in the Bridger Mountains, the range that’s clearly visible in town. At 10 miles round trip and almost 4,500 feet in elevation gain, this is definitely one of the more difficult hikes in the Bozeman area. But if you’re up for the challenge, there’s nothing like standing at the summit.
 
This hike starts at the M trail, and you simply continue past it to reach the top. You can also reach it from the Sypes Canyon Trail, although it does increase the trail’s length.
 
To learn about more hikes and other things to do in Bozeman, go to VisitBozeman.com or DowntownBozeman.org.
 
For more of the best of Bozeman, see the best things to do in Bozeman in the winter, our favorite outdoor eateries, and distilleries & microbreweries.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about Bozeman luxury homes for sale, please reach out! I look forward to hearing from you!
 
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