Don't let a little snow and cold weather stop you from getting out to the mountains this winter! Winter in Bozeman offers some of the greatest hiking of the year. The trails aren't nearly as crowded and the landscapes look entirely new. Here is our list of the 10 best winter hikes in Bozeman.
This trail is 5.5 miles out and back and while it stays very busy in the summer months, it slows down in the winter making it a great time to go. The frozen lake and snow covered peaks that surround it (including Jumbo Mountain) are a spectacular sight. The hike climbs 1,600 ft and is a fairly moderate hike, depending on your ability. It can get icy and slick so be sure to bring your Yaktrax.
5.5 miles | 1,620 ft gain | Get Directions
This trail is a steep climb to a rocky outcropping with stunning views of Gallatin Canyon and the surrounding mountain ranges. This hike is approximately 2.5 miles one way with an 1,860 ft elevation gain. It can be done in the winter but proceed with caution, and Yak Tracks, as this trail can get narrow and icy. The road that takes you directly to the trailhead is not recommended for low-clearance vehicles and we recommend checking road closures before you go. If the gate is locked, you can still walk to the trailhead but it will add a few miles to your hike!
5.2 miles | 1,860 ft gain | Get Directions
The Spanish Peaks Trail in Gallatin Canyon is the starting point for a few different hikes, the hike to Pioneer Falls being one of them! The drive to the trailhead is pretty awesome in itself and there's a chance you will see buffalo and maybe even a moose! (Make sure to check for road closures in the winter). The hike to the waterfall is around 4 miles, but there is not a big elevation gain so it is doable for all levels. The trail takes you through meadows & forests and offers some of the best mountain views as a backdrop. Around the 3-mile mark you reach a fork, take a right and head a little over a mile more to the falls. Depending on the snow level, this one can be done in Yaktrax, but snowshoes might be helpful if it's been a snowy season. Photo credit: Carla Knoll
6.5 miles | 810 ft gain | Get Directions
This trail is close to Bozeman so if you don't want to drive far in wintery conditions this is a good choice. The trail takes you through the forest and switchbacks up to an overlook at the 2-mile point offering big views of the Gallatin Valley. This is part of the Bridger Foothills trail so you can veer off at any point to take your hike across the foothills in either direction. This is a fairly moderate hike and with great views at the top.
4 miles | 1,627 ft gain | Get Directions
Another hike close to Bozeman, Drinking Horse Trail is located directly across the street from the M trailhead. This one begins at the Fish Hatchery and is just about 2 miles long. It's a pretty hike through the snowy forest and over the creek. Soon after crossing the bridge, the trail splits. The left fork is slightly steeper than the right. We suggest making a loop to make the most of this beautiful hike! At the top, you can enjoy views of Bozeman on one side and Bridger Canyon on the other.
2.2 miles | 646 ft gain | Get Directions
Leverich Canyon is a popular mountain bike trail so most hikers steer clear of this trail during the summer months. But in the winter the trail is relatively quiet except for a few fat tire bikes, making it a great time to go enjoy this close-to-town trail! The road to the trailhead is notoriously bad and the parking is limited, which can be a deterrent (meaning fewer people!) The trail is a 4.5 mile loop with a 1,200 foot elevation gain. Photo credit: Sharon Henderson
4.9 miles | 1,269 ft gain | Get Directions
Grotto Falls is one of the many beautiful winter hikes in Hyalite Canyon. The road is plowed to the trailhead (although can still be treacherous in the winter) making this a popular spot year-round with hikers and ice climbers. Speaking of that, if you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse or two of ice climbers on your way up. The trail is only 2.4 miles round trip and there is little elevation gain, making it easy for all hiking abilities. The frozen falls this time of year are like a winter wonderland! If you want to continue hiking, you can continue on to see more waterfalls all the way up to Hyalite Lake, depending on snow and trail conditions.
2.4 miles | 278 ft gain | Get Directions
This is a popular backcountry skiing trail and also a nice winter hike. The trailhead is just before Hyalite Reservoir and the trail is only around 2 miles to the lake. You'll find a lot of cross-country skiers at the beginning of the hike. The trail climbs steadily through the forest, switchbacking its way to Blackmore Lake. Photo credit: Zac Finley
4.3 miles | 905 ft gain | Get Directions
We love this trail because you can make your hike as long or as short as you would like. This trail is easy to get to from Bozeman and is a great hike for all ages. The trail follows South Cottonwood creek, gaining less than 500 feet in elevation in the first few miles. A great turnaround point is the bridge that crosses South Cottonwood Creek. If you do decide to continue on (be careful, this narrow bridge can get icy), you can hike all the way to Hyalite Canyon from here. Photo Credit: www.brisul.com
4.9 miles | 524 ft gain | Get Directions
A frozen waterfall is a sight to behold and Ousel Falls in Big Sky is an easy one to get to in the winter. It's a 1.6-mile hike to the waterfall with little elevation gain. It's an easy drive to the trailhead because it is close to Big Sky. This trail gets quite a bit of use, so the snow stays nicely packed down. Photo credit: Krakatoa 77
1.7 miles | 242 ft gain | Get Directions
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