Anyone who has lived in the mountainous regions of Montana for very long is well aware that almost every trail here is a hiking hotspot. All it takes is a moment’s drive or bike ride to reach world-class hiking and nature watching areas. Although there is an endless wealth of hiking activities in Montana, there are a few staff favorites that we would like to share with our readers. Let’s start with some that are only a stone’s throw from our offices in Bozeman:
Palisade Falls—Hyalite Canyon
Hyalite canyon is just barely on the outskirts of Bozeman, MT, where TRG is based. It is home to an abundance of hiking trails, camping areas, and beautiful panoramic scenery. One of the most effortless hikes, and surprisingly most epic hikes in Hyalite, is Palisade Falls. There is a well-manicured path to the falls that is even wheelchair accessible. The slope is gradual, and the brush is cleared in such a way that it’s almost like walking through a corridor of splendid natural beauty. By the time you reach the falls (it won’t be long, the distance is about 1.2 miles, round trip) you will have been hearing the water crash against the rocks for a while already, and the falls may seem to be a foregone conclusion—until you see them. Palisade Falls is an amazingly tall natural monument, and the sense of being surrounded by the immensity and power of nature is palpable in its presence. In fact, you will feel it, as the mist carries across the air.
Grotto Falls—Hyalite Canyon
Unlike some taller waterfalls, Grotto Falls is not known for its immensity. Grotto Falls is a peaceful naturally-created seclusion, where a person can sit and contemplate the splendor of nature. If you’ve always wanted to sit behind a waterfall and watch it fall before you, this is the place to do it. Summers can bring surprisingly high temperatures to Montana, which is generally known as having a bitterly cold environment. There is a great amount of truth to the legends of Montana winter, but also to the heat of a Montana summer. Many locals flock to Grotto Falls when the mercury rises. Sitting amongst good friends surrounded by the protective mists of waterfalls is an experience that cannot be described with words. To find out for yourself what this feels like, take a hike in Hyalite—the distance to Grotto Falls is only 2.5 miles round-trip.
Middle Cottonwood Creek Fork
This is a beautiful hike nestled in the Bridger range, with stunning greenery, old wooden bridges, and a fresh, clear creek meandering along the way to keep you company. It takes a while longer for the snow to recede from this area because it is mostly shaded, but in the hot summer months, that shade is a welcome refuge from the blazing sun.
No matter which trail a person chooses to hike in Montana, the results will be stunning. You could choose a different area every day for years, and still have plenty of new trails left to explore. For more information on excellent day hikes near Bozeman, find yourself a copy of Robert Stone’s Day Hikes Around Bozeman. It is an excellent resource for hikes of all sizes and styles. Whether you find a guide or book, or don’t, the most important thing is to get out there, and begin exploring and enjoying the resplendent beauty that is Montana.