News from the Knoff Group

Knoff Group Presents: Best Winter Trails in the Bozeman Area

View from a trail in Hyalite Canyon
View from a trail in Hyalite Canyon
View from a trail in Hyalite Canyon

Getting out in the mountains during our long and beautiful winter is not just tied to downhill skiing and snowboarding. Winter trails in the Bozeman area offer excellent outdoor recreation opportunities with fewer crowds. Knoff Group Real Estate has compiled a list of our top winter trails in Bozeman that will keep you loving winter outdoors!

#8 – Bear Trap Canyon is about 35 miles from Bozeman and about 8 miles east of Norris. It offers great cross-country skiing, with beautiful views and fewer crowds than nearby Bozeman. The seven-mile path borders the Madison River and has very little elevation gain. If you want scenic views of the rocky canyon walls, do not miss this great winter trail!

#7 – Buffalo Jump State Park, one of Gallatin County’s favorite attractionsis located just outside of Three Forks, about 25 miles west of Bozeman. The high limestone cliffs were utilized by Native Americans to stampede herds of bison over the cliffs for over 2,000 years, providing them food, shelter and clothing. The trail starts in an open grassland, then gains slight elevation as it climbs up the cliffs. Great for cross-country skiing or a beautiful winter hike, Buffalo Jump State Park features gorgeous views with rich history of the Gallatin Valley.

#6 – Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is located about 50 miles west of Bozeman. The trail system offers 7 different trails to reach the legendary caverns, ranging from easy to more difficult terrain. We love the Fly Fishing Access Trail, a mile jaunt that takes you right along the Jefferson River, along with Danmore Gypsum Mine Trail, a 2-mile trail where you can see the old mine. The trails are popular in the winter, great for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Along with the trails, the rental cabins and campground on site are open year-round.

#5 – Bridger Creek (East Gallatin Recreation Area) is right off of Manley Road, only minutes from downtown Bozeman. This 1.7 mile trail will take you around Bozeman Beach and into open space with beautiful views of the Bridger Mountains. Finish the day off with a beer from MAP brewing located right next to the trail, and you will have had yourself a true Bozeman winter adventure. Bridger Creek Golf Course also provides some of the best beginner and intermediate cross-country skiing, with trails groomed on a regular basis. Dogs, pedestrians, and bikes are not allowed on Bridger Creek Golf Course trails.

#4 – Sunset Hills Trail (Lindley Park) is located south from the Lindley Park parking area. This winding loop is perfect for a morning skate ski, running, walking or classic skiing. Sunset Hills has over 3.8km of beginner trails. If you want to continue on, cross the street to Highland Glen trails, which offer over 8.8km of trails with a variety of terrain. Dogs are not allowed on Sunset Hills/Lindley park trails. 

#3 – Drinking Horse Mountain Trail is located across from the popular “M” trail, right at the base of Bridger Canyon. The trail has a moderate incline and is about 2.5 miles round trip with 700 feet of elevation gain. The trail winds through snowy meadows and alpine forests with views of Bozeman and the Bridger mountains in all four directions. It can be icy so YakTrax or other shoe crampons may be necessary.

If you’re feeling motivated, you can link a trip to the M with Drinking Horse via the new underpass. The M trail is an extremely popular hike with a 1.6 mile loop with an elevation gain of 850 feet. There are two routes from the trailhead, one winding, and a steeper one for the more adventurous. Dogs are allowed on Drinking Horse and M Trails.  

#2 – Sourdough Canyon (Bozeman Creek Trail) is located just outside of Bozeman, off Sourdough Canyon Road. In the winter, the trail is groomed by the Bridger Ski Foundation so it is perfect for classic skiing and skate skiing as well as hiking, winter running and fat tire biking. The moderate hike can range from 2 to 19 miles, depending on if you want to continue up to Mystic Lake. If you decide to hike on to Mystic Lake (not groomed to lake), you can rent out the Mystic Lake Cabin for a winter overnight stay. Dogs are allowed on Sourdough.

#1 – The Hyalite Canyon area is a popular outdoor destination for Bozemanites and has endless miles of trails that are maintained during winter: 

Wildhorse/Lick Creek trail sits fairly low in Hyalite Canyon and is a great trail for meadow skiing or snowshoeing. The trail offers about 8 miles with more difficulty as elevation rises but offers a popular trail network with options for all ability levels. One great route is to turn right at the 4-way and ski to the Upper Wildhorse 4-way. From there, take a left on Trail 455 and head toward the ridge between Hyalite and Bozeman Creek drainages. It’s a narrow trail, but it features beautiful scenery and a relaxing glide back down the road. Lower Wildhorse is a great trail option for beginner to intermediate skiers in Hyalite Canyon. The trail lasts about 4 miles, with an elevation gain of 400 feet. It’s a winding loop trail with beautiful scenery, and if you keep trekking up, a great overlook near Hood Creek looking up the canyon to the mountains.