Top 10 Spring Hikes in Bozeman
Spring hiking in Bozeman can be a bit tricky. Many forest service roads are closed this time of year which makes accessing some of Bozeman’s most popular hikes a bit more difficult. So, when it comes to spring hiking in Bozeman you’ve got to get creative. Here’s our list of the best spring hikes in Bozeman.
This is a popular trail because of its close proximity to town. You can easily head there for a before or after work jaunt and it can be as long or short as you want it. This trail gets used by trail runners, bikers, families with strollers and everything in between. The trail is nice and wide and follows the Bozeman Creek, which, fun fact, is the source of a good portion of Bozeman’s drinking water! The stream also offers several great spots to wade in and cool off on a hot day. You can go the full ten miles to Mystic Lake or turn around at any point.
Head just east of Bozeman for this trail that stays pretty quiet. (Once you get up high enough and past the interstate noise that is!) This trail is most commonly used by climbers heading to Frog Rock and if you’re lucky you’ll get to catch some of them in action. The trail starts right away with switchbacks so it won’t take long to feel like you are high up in the mountains. After a couple miles, views of Frog Rock will make an appearance and you’ll be able to sneak a peek into Bozeman. This can be a great turnaround spot if you’re looking for a quick hike. Otherwise, continue to the top of Chestnut Mountain which is just over 6.5 miles from the trailhead.
This trail can be muddy, but it’s totally worth it. The trail follows Bear Creek all the way up to Bear Lakes. You are near the water for the majority of the trip and there isn’t much elevation gain, making it a fairly easy and enjoyable hike. A couple of miles in, there’s a loop you can make or if you want to head all the way to Bear Lakes it ends up being just over 8 miles out and back.
This hike is popular with mountain bikers, but don’t let that discourage you! The views are great and there are a lot of options as it connects with the Bridger Foothills Trail. There’s water this time of year, mountain meadows and plenty of wildflowers in spring to enjoy. They’ve added some switchbacks and it’s around 3 miles round trip.
Over in the Bridger Foothills, this trail is always bursting with wildflowers come spring! The trail follows a seasonal stream, goes in and out of the forest and ends with an overlook two miles up offering spectacular views of the valley. It connects with the Bridger Foothills trail so if you want to hike further you can continue along the ridge all the way to Mount Baldy and then down the M trail. This is a popular trail because it’s easy to get to. Parking can get a little crowded and because the trailhead is in a neighborhood, be sure to be respectful of where you leave your car.
Lava Lake is a popular trail in Gallatin Canyon. Spring is a perfect time to hit this popular trail before the tourists get here! It’s a rocky trail through a thick forest with a steady climb the whole way up. Once there, the view is pretty spectacular, with the lake and mountains surrounding it. The lake is most likely still frozen right now but should begin thawing out soon. It’s a 5.5-mile hike round trip with a 1,600-foot elevation gain
Hell Roaring Creek
This is a great hike because it’s never too crowded! It’s also in Gallatin Canyon, so it is busier during summer months when the tourists are around, making spring the time to hit this trail. The hike starts by climbing up to a ridge and then dropping down towards Hell Roaring Creek. About a mile in, you cross Hell Roaring Creek and continue to follow the trail along the creek into forested areas eventually opening to meadows throughout. The trail connects with other trails within the Spanish Peaks so you can make the hike as long or short as you feel up to. After the initial climb up the ridge, there is little elevation gain and it is a pleasant, easy trail.
Cherry River Pond
This in-town trail is perfect for an after-dinner stroll or early morning walk. There are a few loops to choose from and all are flat so it’s an easy trail. When the mountains get a late spring snow, this trail is a good choice to get a little walk in. Even though it is right off Frontage road, it feels peaceful on the trail. This trail requires dogs to be on a leash. It’s a popular spot for fishing access to the East Gallatin River and also can lead over to the East Gallatin Recreation Area (and MAP Brewing if you feel like a break and a beer!)
Gallagator Trail and Peets Hill
This is another in-town trail that is part of the Main Street to Mountains trail system. Park at the base of Peets Hill and either head up the trails on the hill or cross Church Street along the Gallagator Trail which follows Bozeman Creek towards the climbing rock and Langohr gardens. These are popular running and biking trails so you certainly won’t be alone on them. A nice walk is going along the Gallagator, past the climbing rock, through the gardens and then up to Willson. Then you can make your way back through the historic neighborhoods of Bozeman.
If you are looking for a view, this is the hike for you! This hike is located in Gallatin Canyon and is a steep but rewarding climb up to the top of the prominent Storm Castle Rock. While this hike can get a little muddy, it is south facing so it dries up quicker than most trails this time of year. This hike is just under 5 miles round trip with 1,850 feet of elevation gain. Please keep in mind that the gate on Storm Castle Road is closed until May, which will add 2 miles to this hike.
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