Welcome back to Bozeman, new and returning Bobcats! Chances are, if you chose Bozeman as your college home, you probably enjoy spending time outdoors. All returning MSU students know that you have to soak up the Bozeman summer-sun before the snow comes. Luckily, Bozeman has endless outdoor endeavors for everyone to explore.
For those of you that prefer to slip on some hiking boots and disappear into the mountains for the day, here are a couple of awesome day hikes in the area.
The “M” Trail: You can’t attend MSU without spending an afternoon hiking the “M.” The “M” trail has been a part of MSU history since 1915, when a group of students first created the well-known Bozeman landmark. The hike includes both easy and hard routes to the top, allowing hikers to choose their desired difficulty. For a slightly longer but leisurely hike, take a left at the first junction. If you enjoy a steeper, more direct trail, take a right at the first junction. The hike provides spectacular views of the Gallatin Valley, and is especially beautiful at sunset.
Length: 1.6 mile loop
Duration: 30 mins-2 hours
Elevation Gain: 850 feet
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate, depending on which trail you take
Storm Castle Peak: This hike, located within the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, follows the south-facing slope of the mountain to the summit. It provides hikers with a bit of a challenge along with breathtaking views of steep rolling mountains, seemingly never-ending hillsides painted with trees and plenty of wildlife. Don’t miss out on this beautiful hike, and be sure to bring your bear spray!
Length: 4.7 miles roundtrip
Duration: 1.5 - 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
If you would rather sleep under the stars and spend several days enjoying the mountain air, there are also wonderful places to camp near Bozeman.
Hyalite Canyon: A quick 30-minute drive into Hyalite Canyon will provide campers with many different places to pitch a tent for a night or two. Hyalite Canyon features several developed campgrounds, including Langohr Campground, Chisholm Campground and Hood Creek Campground. The canyon also allows dispersed camping (meaning camping outside of a designated campground with no services; such as trash removal, and little or no facilities; such as tables and fire pits), but only in designated areas. The developed areas require a reservation before camping. While camping in Hyalite Canyon, there are plenty of things to do, including day hikes, fishing, paddleboarding and biking. Don’t forget to stay up to watch the stars — they are spectacular.
Fairy Lake: The campground adjacent to Fairy Lake includes nine camping spots with several shared restrooms and bear boxes for food. The campground operates on a first-come first-serve system, so make sure to head up in the early afternoon on the day you plan to camp. The area itself features beautiful views of the backside of the Bridger Mountain Range, including Sacajawea Peak, the highest peak in the mountain range. While camping at Fairy Lake, campers can entertain themselves by swimming and paddling on the lake, day hiking into the Bridgers or biking around the area.
For those that prefer to cruise around on bikes, there are several excellent options within the Bozeman area.
Cycling within Bozeman: There are trails scattered everywhere around the city. In fact, the Bozeman Trail System consists of 45 miles of pleasant trails. Most of the trails include bridges, creeks, ponds and some wildlife. A map of Bozeman cycling trails can be purchased for $2 at the Gallatin Valley Land Trust Office.
Leverich Canyon Trail: Leverich Canyon is both beautiful and close to campus, making it easily accessible and well worth your time. The canyon itself is tucked between Sourdough Canyon and Hyalite Canyon. The mountain bike trail loops around the canyon walls and includes a lengthy climb, with a fun but moderately technical descent. Watch out for trees on your way down.
Length: 4.5 mile loop
Duration: 1-3 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
Copper City: The Copper City Trail system was a project created by the Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association and the Bureau of Land Management Butte Field Office. The trail system includes 17+ miles of optimal mountain biking trails for every skill level. Copper City includes trails for individuals who prefer flatter, easier rides and trails for those who want to challenge themselves to steep climbs and technical rides. Copper City also features a skills park, complete with a pump track and two downhill-only rides.
Length: 17+ miles of trails
Duration: However long you want
Elevation Gain: Depends on trail
If you are happiest spending your days on the water, do not worry, there are plenty of beautiful spaces for you to explore around Bozeman.
Madison River: The Madison River, about 30 minutes outside of Bozeman, provides water enthusiasts with many opportunities. From fishing, to floating, to paddleboarding or inflatable kayaking, the river is a great place to spend time. One of the most enjoyable floats on the river puts in at Warm Springs Boat Launch and takes out at Black’s Ford Boat Launch. This 6.5-mile stretch of river can not only be used by tubers, but also paddleboarders. Just make sure to watch for shallow water. You will want to bring a shuttle vehicle or use the Madison River Tubing Shuttle, which departs daily at 11:00am and 1:30pm.
Hyalite Canyon: Once again, Hyalite Canyon makes the cut. Along with being an awesome place to camp, Hyalite Reservoir is a great place to spend some time on the water. The calm reservoir is optimal for paddleboarding, kayaking and fishing.
For those of you that want to get outside and enjoy the sun while it is here, but don’t have the gear to make it happen, the ASMSU Outdoor Recreation Program (ORP) provides students access to a decked-out rental shop where you can rent just about anything you may need to make your outdoor adventure dreams come true.
The ASMSU Outdoor Rec building is located at 1401 West Lincoln Street. Due to COVID-19, the ORP requires that you call and reserve your gear ahead of time to allow for a contactless exchange. Go enjoy some sun!