Hiking and Backpacking

Hiking and Backpacking

A Walk in the
Great Outdoors

In a place like Montana, adventure lies in something as simple as a walk in the woods. Setting off by foot and feeling the earth underneath is good for the heart and soul, especially with a view like ours. We've all manner of terrain to explore, and every square inch of it is inspiring. Trek to the top of a mountain peak and see as far as the eye can see (which you'll come to realize is pretty far) or set out for an alpine lake hidden high in the mountains. From easy walking trails and nature trails to foothill rambles and rugged treks into backcountry wilderness and deep canyons, there's no shortage of ways to walk through the striking landscape of Yellowstone Country. Walking in winter? Strap on a pair of snowshoes.

Trail Safety

Plan for any (and every) kind of weather. Dress in layers and wear broken-in hiking boots. Stay hydrated and always stay on the trail. If you're hiking alone, let someone know where you're going to be. Respect wildlife; do not harass or feed them. You are hiking in bear country. Be sure to make plenty of noise on the trail. Be alert and carry bear spray. As always, remember your binoculars…an essential part of hiking gear.

Tips on where to hike in Montana

Big Sky area:

Backpacker magazine named the 6.6-mile Beehive Basin trail one of the "Best Day Hikes in America" for its quintessential high-country scenery: glacially carved mountains, sparkling alpine lakes and endless wildflowers.

Take the whole family on the mellow 1.6-mile trail to beautiful Ousel Falls, Big Sky's most popular hiking destination.

Other trails near Big Sky include: Uplands, Summit Lake, Lone Mountain, Cinnamon Mountain, Lava Lake, Golden Trout Lake, Storm Castle, Cedar Lake, and Albino Lake.

Big Timber area:

From the Big Timber Creek trailhead in the Crazy Mountains take your pick of rewarding hikes: Timber Creek Falls, Blue Lake, Granite Lake, Thunder Lake, Pear Lake and Twin Lakes. To get there, take 191 north of town and turn west onto Big Timber Canyon Road.

Bozeman area:

Trailheads for the iconic M Trail, Drinking Horse Mountain Trail and Baldy Peak Summit lie less than 5 miles from town along Bridger Canyon Road. The 1.7-mile M Trail leads hikers up to the large white hillside "M." Drinking Horse Mountain Trail—a 2.2-mile loop—yields incredible Gallatin Valley views. Baldy Peak Summit's steep 9.6 miles will test a trekker's endurance but offers gorgeous panoramic views and a chance to see a mountain goat.

Popular trails in Hyalite Canyon south of Bozeman include a kid-friendly 2.8-miler to History Rock, a 4-mile route to Blackmore Lake, an 8.9-mile excursion to Emerald Lake, and a challenging 16.2-mile trek up Hyalite Peak.

Other options in the Bozeman area include Bear Canyon Trail, Middle Cottonwood Creek, South Cottonwood Creek, Lower Mount Ellis, Bozeman Creek Trail, Pioneer Falls and Sypes Canyon.

Columbus area:

Accessible year-round, the 6.5-mile Stillwater River Trail to Sioux Charley Lake is one of the most popular hikes into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Also check out the trails to Woodbine Falls, Mystic Lake and Elk Lake.

Livingston and Paradise Valley area:

Don't miss the easy 1-mile hike to Pine Creek Falls off Highway 89 south of Livingston. If you're up for a challenge, the trail continues on to climb 3,000 feet in 4 miles to Pine Creek Lake, a spectacular high-mountain lake nestled in a sheer rock cirque.

Passage Creek Falls is another popular waterfall hike in the Paradise Valley, although it's decidedly longer at 4 miles round trip.

Other nearby options include Deep Creek, Elephanthead Mountain and Livingston Peak.

Red Lodge area:

One of the most popular hikes in the area is the 9.5-mile Lake Fork Trail 9 miles south of town off Highway 212. The trail runs along the Lake Fork of Rock Creek and passes several lakes on the way to Sundance Pass. Watch for moose!

An abundance of hiking trails and several campsites off the West Fork Road southwest of town make this area a fantastic place to explore the Beartooths. Trailheads include Willow Creek, Nichols Creek, Silver Run, Basin Lakes, Timberline Lake, Senia Creek and West Fork.

Yellowstone National Park:

With over 900 miles of trails, America's first national park is a hiker's paradise. The Yellowstone landscape varies greatly depending on what section of the park you're in. Peaks, waterfalls, canyons, geysers, forests, petrified forests, rivers, lakes, wildlife, spectacular views and uncrowded wilderness await those who hit the trails. Backpackers will want to consider these favorites: Firehole Meadows, Shoshone Lake, Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, Sky Rim Trail and Ribbon Lake.

Hiking and Backpacking

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