Last year I posted about some of my favorite near- or in-town Bozeman trails for a quick weekday hike or trail run. There are so many trails within a 20-minute drive, though, that I decided that post was in dire need of some additions. So here’s part 2! All these trails are a 10-20 minute drive from Bozeman, depending on where in town you’re coming from.
This is easily the most “famous” hike in Bozeman – it’s hard to miss the giant M on the westernmost side of the Bridger mountains. The trail takes you up to some benches next to the M, where you get a view of the entire Gallatin valley. There are 2 trails you can take from the trailhead – the half-mile steep way and the 1-1.5 mile “easy” way. You gain ~900 feet in elevation either way, so the steep way is really steep and the other way is only relatively easy. There are several benches along the longer trail where you can stop to enjoy the view and/or catch your breath. From the M, the Bridger Ridge trail continues on the entire length of the range.
Drinking Horse is right across the road from the M, so it’s easy to run or hike both trails together. Like the M, there are 2 ways up Drinking Horse, though there’s not a huge difference in incline here. The elevation gain is roughly the same as the M, and doing the trail as a loop is ~2.5 miles. At the top you can look out both to the west (towards Bozeman) and to the east. There are a couple benches along this trail too, as well as a picnic table at the top.
Sypes Canyon trail is in the Bridgers just a bit north of the M. About 2 miles up the trail is an overlook, which is a good turnaround point for a short hike. After another mile or so Sypes ends at the Bridger Foothills trail, which connects to the M and several other trails along the west side of the Bridgers, so there are many options for getting in a longer hike or run from this trailhead. If you go all the way up to the Foothills trail you’ll gain ~1,500 feet in elevation.
Triple Tree is an in-town trail – or at least, the trailhead is on the outskirts of town in a neighborhood of multi-million dollar homes. For the first half mile or so your view is mostly those big houses, but after that you get into a wooded area and finally up to a hilltop that overlooks the valley. It’s about 4.5 miles roundtrip and gains ~800 feet – so it’s more runnable than the previous trails on the list, though there are some steep parts.
South Cottonwood trail is south of Bozeman, in the Gallatin mountain range. While you won’t get sweeping panoramic views from a short hike on this trail, it meanders through shady evergreen forest along a creek. Once you get past the switchbacks at the beginning of the trail, the inclines are gentle. The second bridge at ~2 miles is a good turnaround point for a short hike; the full trail continues 6 more miles and also connects to a few other trails that will take you into Hyalite canyon.
Which trail would you choose for a weekday hike?
What’s your favorite hometown trail?