The snow is melting and we are getting excited to hit the trails! But spring hiking in Bozeman can be a bit tricky, Many forest service roads are closed this time of year, including Hyalite Canyon road, which makes accessing some of Bozeman's most popular hikes a bit tricky. 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.
1. SOURDOUGH CANYON
Description: 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 for 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 40% 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. There’s tons of shade from all the trees and it is so lush this time of year!
Difficulty: Easy to moderate.
Directions/Parking: S. 19th to Nash Road to Sourdough Canyon Rd to the parking lot
2. CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN
Description: 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 for 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 7.5 miles from the trailhead. Throughout this entire hike the views are pretty spectacular.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult, steep in places with plenty of switchbacks
Directions/Parking: Take I-90 to the Trail Creek exit. Head east on Trail Creek Rd and you’ll reach the trailhead parking on the south side of the road
3. BEAR CANYON
Description: This trail is so lush this time of year! It also 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 trail and there are so many places to stop and have a picnic. There isn’t much elevation gain making it a fairly easy and enjoyable hike. A couple 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.
Directions: Off of I-90 take the Bear Canyon exit, head west and then south on Bear Canyon Road. Proceed all the way to the end of the road (there is a trail head for New World Gulch first, keep going a little further.)
4. TRUMAN GULCH
Description: This one is popular with mountain bikers, but don’t let that discourage you from hiking it! 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 from trailhead to signpost with connecting trails.
Directions: North on Springhill Rd 8.5 miles to Springhill Community Road. There’s a sign for Truman Gulch, turn right and continue for 1.6 miles to Walker Road. Turn right after Springhill Church and drive 1.1 miles to Forswell Road and continue 3 miles to the trailhead.
5. SYPES CANYON
Description: Over in the Bridger Foothills, this trail is always bursting with wildflowers this time of year! It follows a seasonal stream, goes in and out of 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.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Directions: North on Springhill Rd to Sypes Canyon and continue until the Y. Bear right and park at the trailhead or in the overflow parking lot. Again, please don’t park where the well-marked no parking signs are.
6. LAVA LAKE
Description: Lave Lake is a popular trail up the canyon and spring is a perfect time to hit this trail before the tourists get here! It’s a rocky trail through thick forest and continues up past a few seasonal waterfalls to the lake. Once there the view is pretty spectacular with the lake and mountains surrounding it. Take a picnic and enjoy the peace and then explore around the lake before heading back down. The lake is most likely still frozen right now, but should begin thawing out soon. It’s three miles to the lake and gains 1,600 feet elevation, so be prepared.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Directions: Hwy 191 south towards Big Sky, trailhead is well marked. After you pass House Rock start looking for it!
7. HELL ROARING CREEK
Description: This is a great hike because it’s never too crowded! It’s also up the canyon so is busier during summer months when the tourists are around, making spring the time to hit this trail. The hike starts by climbing the ridge and then finally drops to the other side and the highway noise quickly fades. About a mile in you cross Hell Roaring Creek and continue to follow the trail along the creek into forested areas and 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.
Directions: Hwy 191 south towards Big Sky, near Montana Whitewater. The trailhead is right off the highway on the right side.
8. CHERRY RIVER POND
Description: 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 the frontage road, it feels peaceful on the trail. Probably because of all the birds! This trail requires dogs be on a leash so the wildlife is always great here. 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!)
Directions: North 7th, right after the overpass take a quick right to the trailhead.
9. GALLAGATOR TRAIL & PEETS HILL
Description: 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 can be going along the Gallagator, past the climbing rock, through the gardens and then head up to Willson and make your way back through the historical neighborhoods of Bozeman.
Directions: Main Street to south on Church, right after Bogert Park