We are obsessed with the outdoors, which is pretty typical around here. Getting out to walk in our mountains is a rewarding experience, which you just need some time, gas, and perseverance to enjoy. Below is a list of hikes which we love. I will be updating this list as I think of more hikes, which people may enjoy. There are hundreds of hikes within an hours drive, and the mountains to the south and east, and southwest are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which spans from Bozeman to Jackson Hole, WY south of the Tetons. This is a massive area, replete with wildlife, pristine, untouched alpine forests, fragile ecosystems making a living in tough places, clean and clear water cascading down rock walls, and the smell of pine duff. The old growth forests carpeting the mountains are magical places, which can offer your spirit more than just nice visuals, but also a rejuvenation which becomes a part of you over time… OK, enough, here are the hikes (This list will be added to):
Lava Lake Trail: 9 miles (14.86 km) to Lava Lake and back /1605 feet (489 m) elevation gain. Moderate trail, rocky. Located in the Madison Range, Spanish Peaks. Take 191 south into Gallatin Canyon, and look for signs to the trailhead after about 10 miles south of Four Corners on the right hand side. It is right before the second bridge across the Gallatin River. The trail ascends through rocky terrain in a forested canyon, with Cascade Creek rushing down alongside for most of the way. After getting to the lake, you can camp, fish, hike further, or just have picnics. It is very scenic.
Table Mountain: 18 miles round trip from Lava Lake trailhead. 4,760 elevation gain from Lava Lake. Warning: good route finding skills needed, no good trail descriptions. Strenuous. This hike, from Lava Lake winds its way up the north ridge of Table Mountain’s collapsed plateau. It offers a true wilderness and alpine hike, as it is very wide open and over 9,000 feet for much of the way, where it is too windy for trees to grow. You are surrounded by the Gallatin and Madison range’s ten thousand foot peaks, with the Canyon way down below you like a distant memory. To get to the rim of the plateau is pretty cathartic, and there is endless amounts of camping on about 10 square miles. Water may not be present from mid-June until Fall. The route requires excellent orienteering skills, as the trail gets very little traffic and is easily missed, and disappears entirely in a few spots. Bring a good map.
Hyalite Peak: 15 miles roundtrip, 3425 elevation gain. Classic Bozeman hike. Moderately strenuous. Busy trail, gets a lot of use. Located in scenic Hyalite Canyon, and trail winds past many waterfalls. Two lakes in the upper bowls, and the upper ridge of Hyalite gives access to the other 10,000 foot mountains in the Hyalite Peaks of the Gallatin Range.
Palisade Falls: 3 miles round trip 292 foot elevation gain. Easy. Also located in Hyalite Canyon, and is an excellent easy trail for an evening out with the family. Paved trail is wheel chair accessible to the falls, and is a great viewpoint.
M Trail: 1.9 miles to M the easy way, and 0.9 to the M the hard way (both are one way distances). 850 foot elevation gain. Maybe the busiest trail in Bozeman. Trailhead is also close to the Drinking Horse Mountain Trail, and the Fish Hatchery. Hike to the big white M on the mountain. Easy way to the left, hard way on the right. Great view of Bozeman across Gallatin Valley to the southwest.
Beehive Basin: Around 7 miles round trip, 1347 foot elevation gain. Easy moderate trail. Busy trail in Big Sky, MT. This trail takes you to a beautiful alpine basin, where moose, bear, and various raptors call their home. A few small alpine ponds, surrounded by wildflowers and boulders. Try for Beehive Peak? Make sure to read a guidebook.