5 Amazing Hiking Trails and Campgrounds Near Bozeman, Montana (2023)
Bozeman has two faces: the first of being a University City and the second of being an outdoor recreational heaven. Yellowstone National Park is within its proximity, and Custer Gallatin National Forest is surrounding the town offering the quintessential Montana landscapes to explore. Be it hiking or camping, the opportunities in the outskirt regions of Bozeman are endless. And especially when the options are among the standout scenery, weekend adventures here become a must.
Bozeman has an ever-expanding trail network a few commercial campgrounds closer to town. Whether you are a beginner hiker or a professional in the same, there are endless options for you to explore.
5 Amazing Hiking Trails In and Around Bozeman, Montana
So why wait? Learn about all the popular campgrounds and hiking trails in Bozeman. We assure you will find some great options from the list below. Have a look:
1. The Drinking Horse Mountain Trails
Drinking Horse Mountain is a prominent hill just outside Bozeman at the mouth of Bridger Canyon. This 2.2-mile, figure-eight loop trail is right across the popular ‘M’ trail meandering beside Fish Technology Center to a bridge over Bridger Creek. Considering it is a short and relatively easy trail, you can find it full of Bozeman’s families, beginners, and locals. However, what attracts hikers the most here are the beautiful landscapes and rewarding views. Gaining an elevation of 700 feet above ground level, it also opens up an exciting overlook of the Bridger Mountains and the Gallatin Valley. You will find several shaded areas, scenic viewpoints, and benches to rest throughout the trail. If your timing is right, you might also get some blissful views of grounds filled with wildflowers.
2. The College “M” Trail
College “M” Trail is the day, the most popular and loved hiking trail in Bozeman. It is located on the northeast of town, right at the mouth of Bridger Canyon. Although it is a 2-mile loop, hiking here, the trail can prove slightly strenuous, all because of the steep climbs. Upon reaching up to the top, you will come across a large “M” on the mountainside, a representative symbol for Montana State University. Not only that, but the area also offers remarkable views of distant mountain ranges, valleys, and more. And if you happen to hike here during the spring season, this hillside adorned with wildflowers will take your heart away. Depending upon your skill levels, you can choose from two paths: first, the trail to the left, which is less steep and more winding, or the trail to the right, which is steep but has a more direct approach. College “M” Trail reportedly remains highly crowded, and if you are looking for a spot to picnic, do come early.
3. The Beehive Basin Trail
The Beehive Basin Trail is a nearly 50-mile drive south on Highway 191 from Bozeman, but worth it. It isn’t just popular amongst Bozeman residents, but hikers from all over Montana prefer hiking here. The trail is basically a 6.5-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. It further ends up at an elevation of over 9,600 feet, offering excellent views all around. Upon reaching the top, you will encounter an astounding Lone Peak view during the walk. Not just that but an alpine lake and a sparkling glacier cirque add to the glory of this hike. Even though the route is marked at easy to moderate, several hikers suffer from issues like heavy breathing or difficulty in breathing due to its elevation. Due to elevation, you may also find snow at Beehive Basin, commonly during Spring and sometimes even during the early summers.
4. The Triple Tree Trail
The Triple Tree Trailhead begins at 10 minutes from downtown Bozeman, on the town’s outskirts (south side). This 5.4 miles out and back trail is often populated by sunset watchers, joggers, dog walkers, and mountain bikers. While you begin the hike, the route is a little climbing and steep, but you will ultimately have good views. The trail then is gradually inclined and takes you through grasslands and forests. During summers, hikers must choose to switch backing routes as the Triple Tree Trail has lesser shade, proving a problem during high heat hours. The best time to select this hiking trail is during the Spring or Fall season, especially for wildflowers blooms and foliage bursts with colors. Though, hike in groups and carry along bear spray for your safety.
5. The Bear Canyon Trail
The Bear Canyon Trail isn’t another hiking trail in the outskirts of Bozeman. The trail covers a distance of 8.1 miles back and out with an incline of nearly 1500 feet. On the way, you may also find ATVs and dirt bikes sharing the same pathway; thus, walk cautiously. What makes the Bear Canyon Trail a popular space is its proximity to a stream and lake, as well as the wildlife viewing opportunities. However, because bears and ground snakes are common threats on this route, don’t forget to take along a Bear spray and walk cautiously. Bear Canyon Trail isn’t just a popular place for hiking and biking but also known for an afternoon picnic. Or, before you head out, pack yourself fishing gears and have fun on the waterways.
5 Amazing Campgrounds Near Bozeman, Montana
1. The Battle Ridge Campground
Located 30 minutes north of Bozeman, the Battle Ridge Campground and picnic area is a local’s go-to spot. This developed campground has 13 free-to-use campsites available on a first-come-first-serve basis. While most of the campsites cater for pull-up tent camping, the largest one which is 12 by 32 feet, might provide you with some extra space. Battle Ridge Campground operates seasonally from Mid-May through September and is often populated. To grab your position, consider reaching here in the afternoon itself. Its prime setting in the National Forest and access to the Bridger Mountains make it a popular spot. Campers can also access the Battle Ridge Trailhead right across Highway 86 from the campgrounds.
2. Bear Canyon Campground
If you want to access a developed yet peaceful campground, then reach Bear Canyon Campground on the east of downtown Bozeman. With several RVing and tenting sites, this campground is settled atop a raised hill above interstate 90. That is why, unlike most campgrounds, you won’t hear traffic noise during camping here. Some of the amenities here include an outdoor pool, a shop with gift and camping supplies, complimentary Wi-Fi, and playground equipment. Besides camping and RVing, visitors can also go for on-site cabins available on renting basis, both weekly and monthly. Bear Canyon Campground is ideal for those who want to access Bozeman but don’t want to stay in hotels and inns. It is also a perfect space for spending long holidays amidst nature.
3. The Bozeman Hot Springs Campground
The Bozeman Hot Springs Campground is the most popular and one of the closest campgrounds to Bozeman city. Nearly a 20-minute drive from the downtown, both the campground and hot springs are located on the south of Four Corners. There are almost 12 hot spring pools with water temperatures ranging from 59 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit. And right beside these pools are overnight campgrounds with RVing sites, tent sites, and full hook-ups. Even though when multiple tenting sites are closely packed, privacy shrubs divide them for a personalized experience. There is laundry, a shower, and free WiFi throughout the campground. Campers here can also enjoy live music, weekend events, and access hot springs during night hours.
4. The Red Mountain & Trapper Springs Campgrounds
Both Red Mountain & Trapper Springs Campgrounds are nearly 30 minutes’ drive away from Bozeman through Highway 84. On both the sites, there are 34 camping sites, of which half are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, whereas half are reversible. During summers, most sites get full early; thus, consider reaching during the afternoon hours to reserve your spot. Some of the amenities here include a picnic table, vault toilets, potable water, and fire rings. Both tenting enthusiasts and RV owners can camp here, though only without hook-ups. Red Mountain & Trapper Springs are nestled near the shores of the Lower Madison River, which also opens up several modes of recreational opportunities close by. Some of the popular activities here include fly-fishing and floating, though be mindful during the high-water current.
5. The Langohr Campground
The Langohr Campground is 25 minutes drive south of Bozeman. Leading to Langohr is a gravel road; thus, be ready for some bumps and jumps during your driving trip. It is basically a national forest campground in Hyalite Canyon with 19 camping sites. The entire campground is equipped with several valuable amenities, including vault toilets, fire rings, picnic tables. What attracts campers here are the incredible natural setting and access to the parts of Custer Gallatin National Forest. Some of the popular recreational opportunities here include hiking and fishing. Langohr Campground operates only from mid-May through September, with sites open for reservation. And hence because the campground (at an elevation of 6,200 feet) receives heavy snowfall during the winter season, access and camping here become impossible.