Montana is one of the best states in the USA to get outside and explore. Southwest Montana, in particular, has some of most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. Bozeman, Montana is surrounded by mountains and you’re never far from a scenic river or rolling hills. This is what makes Bozeman such a great place for hiking! In fact, hiking is one of my top recommendations for people when they’re visiting this area. Keep reading for some of the best hikes in Bozeman.
–> Visiting Bozeman soon? Here are my top recommendations on what to do while you’re here! <–
If you talked to me a year ago when I was living in Chicago, I would have laughed if you asked me to go on a hike! I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, Montana changed me so much in that way. After moving here, I’ve grown to love the outdoors, adventurous activities, National Parks, all of it!
This is our second summer in Montana and I’m looking forward to exploring even more hikes in Bozeman, but here are some of my favorites so far:
The “M” Trail
While driving around Bozeman, you might spot the big white “M” in the side of one of the mountains. This “M” is for Montana State University and is maintained by a hiking group associated with the college. This first hike takes you to see the “M” up close and personal!
This trail is relatively popular. If the weather is good, you’ll definitely see other people hiking. It’s moderate difficulty, but there is a shortcut you can take that makes it harder since the elevation increases a lot faster on that shortcut. The trail ends at the “M” made of painted rocks. This spot gives you incredible views of Bozeman and the surrounding mountains!
Length: 1.9 mi loop
Total elevation gain: 820ft
Emerald Lake and Heather Lake Trail
This is a longer hike compared to most of them on this list. This is a beautiful trail that will take you by Emerald Lake and Healther Lake. These two lakes are surrounded by pine trees and mountains and they’d both make the perfect spot for a picnic lunch in the middle of your day hike!
Length: 10.5mi out and back
Total Elevation Gain: 2,165ft
The Palisade Falls trail is likely the easiest trail on this list, but the ending is one of the best! The trail is entirely paved and doesn’t gain too much elevation, making this the perfect trail for new hikers. The ending will leave you in front of a huge waterfall! you can climb the rocks to get up close, or just admire it from afar.
If you come in the winter, this is also a great trail to try because the waterfall will be frozen and just as beautiful!
Length: 1.1mi out and back
Total elevation gain: 239ft
Hyalite Creek Trail
If you’re visiting Bozeman, I always recommend taking a drive over to Hyalite Canyon because it’s one of the most beautiful places around here. This hike will take you through it! The trailhead is in a valley between mountains and is actually right where Austin and I took our Christmas card photos! We haven’t done this hike yet, but it’s on our list for this summer.
Length: 15.2mi out and back
Total elevation gain: 3,513ft
This is the trail I’ve been on most often since the trailhead is walking distance from my house. You’ll enter this trail off of a somewhat busy street and almost immediately be immersed in nature. You’ll pass through a gate in the fence and once you to, you can’t hear any sounds from the outside world! This fence is a cattle fence, so you might see cows along this trail!
There are several different turns in the trail that you can take, so you can have a different hike every time you go. This area isn’t in the mountains, but you can definitely see the mountains from afar.
Length: 3.7mi loop
Total elevation gain: 226ft
Bridger Ridge Trail
Bridger Ridge Trail is by far the hardest trail on this list and it’s one that I plan to work up to this summer! According to AllTrails, this hike follows the ridgeline of the Bridger Mountain range. It has a huge elevation gain and the views are probably some of the best you can find in Bozeman.
Length: 18.9mi point to point
Total elevation gain: 8,346ft
Drinking Horse Mountain Trail
This is one of my favorite hikes in Bozeman! Drinking Horse Mountain trail takes you up Drinking Horse Mountain – shocker! This is in the same general area as the “M” trail above, but in my opinion, has better views at the top. When we hiked this trail, there were people who had hiked to the top in the morning, set up a hammock, and spent the afternoon lounging at the top of the mountain!
Length: 2.1mi loop
Total elevation gain: 656ft
Grotto Falls Trail
Grotto Falls is a bit further from Bozeman than the rest of these trails, but it’s a popular trail in the area because of the falls! The trail head is in Emigrant, Montana which is about 45 minutes from Bozeman. It’s a relatively easy trail and the big attraction is Grotto Falls – the second waterfall trail on this list.
Length: 2.4mi out and back
Total elevation gain: 278ft
Where’s your favorite hike?
If you have any other hikes in Bozeman, Montana that you just love, let me know in the comments! I’m hopefully going to be doing quite a bit of hiking this summer, so I’m always open to new ideas.