A scenic mountain hike to a beautiful lake is just what we need to take the edge off during hot summer days. Knoff Group Real Estate has compiled a list of our favorite lake hikes in Bozeman, Livingston, Big Sky, and the surrounding areas. Grab a backpack, a fishing pole and head on out there!
#1 – Emerald Lake Trail is a 10-mile round-trip hike that follows the East Fork of Hyalite Creek. Once you trek through the wooded trails and reach Emerald Lake, you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous alpine meadows with stunning views. The trail gradually gains about 2,000 feet in elevation, so make sure you bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated. To reach the trailhead, go up Hyalite Canyon, past Hyalite Reservoir, and continue on the road towards Palisade Falls until you reach the very end.
#2 – Heather Lake Trail follows the same trail to Emerald Lake but is a mile further up the trail – making it about 11-miles round-trip. It features the same stunning woodlands that Emerald Lake does but opens up to a stunning lake that sits below 10,000-foot peaks. Make sure to bring your fishing rod – chances are, you might catch a cutthroat or grayling!
#3 – Pine Creek Lake Trail is a more challenging 10-mile out-and-back trail about 30 minutes south from downtown Livingston. The trail winds alongside the creek up the drainage below the north slope of Black Mountain. The trail follows a wooded forest to the base of Pine Creek Falls. After you hit this point, the trail becomes more challenging as you cross the creek (no bridge), and wind-up steep slopes studded with wildflowers before eventually reaching the stunning Pine Creek Lake.
#4 – Lava Lake Trail is a great shorter option – about a 30-minute drive from Bozeman down in Gallatin Canyon. Beginning at the Gallatin River, the trail follows the wooded Cascade Creek up 3-miles before reaching the lake Lake. From there enjoy the view of the pristine lake framed by gorgeous mountaintops.
#5 – Elbow Lake Trail is an all-day, 15.7-mile out-and-back trail. Prepare for a long trip up, gaining about 3,000 feet in elevation before hitting scenic Elbow Lake. Once at Elbow Lake, you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous alpine scenery and views of Mount Cowen – the highest peak in the Absaroka Beartooth Mountains. Many people enjoy camping at the lake – the perfect spot to pitch a tent, lay back, and relax!
#6 – Beehive Basin Trail is a 7-mile round-trip hike nestled in the northern Madison range in Big Sky. It’s a great moderate hike option – gaining about 1,650 feet in elevation. Make your way through a variety of wooded and alpine meadowed areas before reaching the gorgeous mountain lake. While Beehive Basin Trail is popular year-round, it gets crowded during the summer months – so get to the parking lot early!