Montana offers some of the most stunning hiking trails in the country, with a diverse range of landscapes and breathtaking views. Here, we present the 10 best hiking trails in the Treasure State for your next outdoor adventure.
- Glacier National Park is home to two extraordinary hiking trails – Avalanche Lake and Grinnell Glacier Trail.
- Flathead National Forest boasts the Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail and Holland Falls National Recreation Trail, both offering scenic beauty.
- Missoula is home to the Mount Sentinel “M” Trail, known for its panoramic views and rich biodiversity.
- Bozeman offers the challenging yet rewarding College M Trail, known for its scenic beauty and stunning views.
- Big Sky is home to the Beehive Basin Trail, renowned for its alpine meadows and breathtaking mountain vistas.
- The Beaten Path in the Beartooth Mountains is a challenging and scenic hike that takes you through stunning mountain landscapes.
- Trapper Peak in Bitterroot National Forest offers a strenuous yet rewarding hike with breathtaking summit views.
With its expansive trail network and stunning mountain views, the Jewel Basin Hiking Area is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts.
Discover lesser-known hiking trails in Montana and uncover the state’s hidden gems beyond the popular routes.
Before embarking on your Montana hiking adventure, be sure to check out our tips for hiking in the state, including safety precautions for bear country and dealing with elevation gain.
Montana’s unparalleled natural beauty awaits. Lace up your hiking boots and explore these incredible trails in the Treasure State!
Glacier National Park: Avalanche Lake and Grinnell Glacier Trail
Glacier National Park is a hiker’s paradise, and two of its most popular trails are Avalanche Lake and Grinnell Glacier Trail. Let’s explore the wonders of these hiking routes and why they are a must-visit in Montana.
Avalanche Lake Trail is a moderate 4.6-mile hike that takes you through lush forests and alongside sparkling creeks. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Avalanche Gorge and the towering mountains surrounding the lake. The trail leads you to the pristine Avalanche Lake, nestled beautifully in a glacial cirque. It’s the perfect spot to take a break, have a picnic, and soak in the serene beauty of nature.
If you’re up for a longer and more challenging hike, Grinnell Glacier Trail is the way to go. This 10.3-mile trek offers unparalleled vistas of alpine meadows, glacier-carved valleys, and turquoise lakes. You’ll pass through blooming wildflower fields and might even spot mountain goats and bighorn sheep along the way. The highlight of the trail is reaching the viewpoint of Grinnell Glacier, where you can witness the awe-inspiring sight of a massive glacier surrounded by jagged peaks.
Table: Trail Details
|Avalanche Lake Trail||Moderate||4.6 miles||Avalanche Gorge, Mountain Views, Pristine Lake|
|Grinnell Glacier Trail||Strenuous||10.3 miles||Alpine Meadows, Glacier Views, Wildlife Spotting|
Both Avalanche Lake and Grinnell Glacier Trail offer a truly immersive experience in the wild beauty of Glacier National Park. Remember to pack plenty of water, snacks, and sun protection, and always stay on designated trails to preserve the fragile ecosystem. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore these iconic trails that showcase the very best of Montana’s natural wonders.
Flathead National Forest: Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail and Holland Falls National Recreation Trail
If you’re looking for unforgettable hiking experiences in Montana, Flathead National Forest has two must-visit trails – the Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail and Holland Falls National Recreation Trail. Let’s dive into these scenic routes and what makes them stand out.
The Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail is a hidden gem within the forest, offering hikers a peaceful and serene environment to explore. This 6-mile trail takes you through lush forests, tranquil meadows, and alongside crystal clear streams. The trail is well-maintained, making it accessible for hikers of all skill levels. As you meander along the path, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this area home, including deer, elk, and a variety of bird species. The highlight of the Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail is the breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains from the summit. It’s a truly awe-inspiring sight that will leave you in awe of Montana’s natural beauty.
Holland Falls National Recreation Trail is another popular hiking destination in Flathead National Forest. This moderate 3-mile trail takes you through a picturesque forested area and leads to the stunning 40-foot Holland Falls. As you hike, you’ll be greeted by the soothing sounds of the rushing waterfall and the vibrant colors of wildflowers that line the path during the summer months. The trail offers several viewpoints from which you can admire the falls and take in the surrounding scenery. It’s a great option for hikers looking for a shorter yet rewarding adventure.
When planning your hiking adventure in Flathead National Forest, be sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, and appropriate gear for the weather conditions. It’s also important to respect the natural surroundings and adhere to any posted guidelines to preserve the beauty of these trails for future generations. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to experience the incredible beauty of the Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail and Holland Falls National Recreation Trail.
|Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail||Easy||6 miles||Scenic views, diverse wildlife|
|Holland Falls National Recreation Trail||Moderate||3 miles||Holland Falls, wildflowers|
Missoula: Mount Sentinel “M” Trail
Located in the vibrant city of Missoula, the Mount Sentinel “M” Trail offers a rewarding hike with stunning panoramic views. Let’s discover why this trail is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
The Mount Sentinel “M” Trail is a popular hiking destination in Missoula, Montana, known for its accessibility and breathtaking scenery. The trail begins at the base of the University of Montana and winds its way up Mount Sentinel to the iconic “M” landmark.
The hike is moderate in difficulty, making it suitable for hikers of all experience levels. As you ascend the trail, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the city below, the surrounding mountains, and the expansive valley. Along the way, keep an eye out for an abundance of wildlife, including deer, birds, and occasionally, a black bear.
|Mount Sentinel “M” Trail||Missoula||Moderate|
At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view that stretches as far as the eye can see. The “M” itself is a historic symbol of the university and offers a great photo opportunity. It’s no wonder that locals and visitors alike flock to this trail to soak in the beauty of Missoula and its surrounding landscapes.
So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll with breathtaking views, the Mount Sentinel “M” Trail in Missoula is a must-visit. Lace up your hiking boots, pack some water, and prepare to be captivated by the natural beauty that Montana has to offer.
Bozeman: College M Trail
Bozeman is a gateway to outdoor adventures, and the College M Trail is a must-do hike for those seeking a thrilling and scenic experience. Let’s explore what makes this trail a favorite among hikers.
The College M Trail, located just a few miles south of downtown Bozeman, offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the city below. This moderate to difficult hike stretches approximately 2.5 miles and gains about 1,500 feet in elevation, making it a great option for hikers looking for a challenge.
One of the highlights of the College M Trail is its iconic “M” overlook. This giant letter, painted on the side of Mount Baldy, represents Montana State University and offers a picturesque vantage point to capture memorable photos. As you ascend the trail, you’ll witness breathtaking landscapes of rolling hills, lush valleys, and distant peaks, creating a truly immersive experience in nature.
Additionally, the College M Trail provides an opportunity to observe local wildlife, including deer, elk, and a variety of bird species. Be sure to keep your camera ready to capture these incredible encounters.
|Trail Name||Location||Distance||Elevation Gain|
|College M Trail||Bozeman||2.5 miles||1,500 feet|
So, whether you’re a local or visiting Montana, don’t miss out on the College M Trail. Lace up your hiking boots, pack some water and snacks, and embark on an unforgettable adventure surrounded by the natural beauty of Bozeman.
Big Sky: Beehive Basin Trail
Nestled in the heart of Big Sky country, the Beehive Basin Trail offers hikers a chance to immerse themselves in pristine alpine meadows and encounter breathtaking vistas. Let’s discover why this trail is a must-explore in Montana.
As you embark on the Beehive Basin Trail, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the beauty of nature at every turn. The trail winds through towering forests of evergreen trees, leading you to expansive meadows filled with vibrant wildflowers during the warmer months. The panoramic views of the surrounding mountains are simply awe-inspiring, making it a photographer’s dream.
The Beehive Basin Trail is perfect for hikers of all skill levels, offering a moderate challenge with well-maintained paths and moderate elevation gain. The highlight of the trail is undoubtedly the serene Beehive Basin itself, a pristine alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks. Take a moment to soak in the tranquility and marvel at the crystal-clear waters that mirror the surrounding majestic mountains.
- Immersive alpine meadows
- Breathtaking panoramic views
- Vibrant wildflowers
- Well-maintained paths
- Moderate challenge
- Pristine Beehive Basin
For those seeking an unforgettable hiking experience in Montana, the Beehive Basin Trail is a true gem. Whether you’re a nature lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for an escape into the wilderness, this trail offers an opportunity to connect with nature and create lasting memories. So lace up your boots, pack your camera, and get ready to embark on a journey that will fill your soul with wonder and leave you longing for more adventures in Big Sky country.
|Beehive Basin Trail||Big Sky||Moderate|
Beartooth Mountains: The Beaten Path
For those seeking a more challenging hike, the Beartooth Mountains offer The Beaten Path, a trail that showcases the rugged beauty of Montana’s mountain landscapes. Let’s delve into the allure of this challenging trek.
The Beaten Path is a 26-mile trail that winds its way through the stunning Beartooth Mountain Range. Known for its pristine alpine lakes, towering peaks, and vast wilderness, this trail is a favorite among experienced hikers and nature enthusiasts.
As you embark on The Beaten Path, prepare to be captivated by breathtaking views of glacier-carved valleys, cascading waterfalls, and lush meadows dotted with vibrant wildflowers. The trail takes you through diverse terrain, from dense forests to rocky ridges, offering a true test of endurance and a chance to connect with the untamed beauty of Montana.
|The Beaten Path||26 miles||Challenging||Alpine lakes, glacier-carved valleys, waterfalls, and panoramic views|
Along the way, hikers will encounter a myriad of wildlife, including mountain goats, elk, and even the elusive grizzly bear. It is essential to come prepared with proper safety gear, bear spray, and the knowledge of how to navigate bear country.
Completing The Beaten Path requires careful planning, as it is a multiday hike that includes camping along the trail. However, the rewards are immeasurable, as you find yourself immersed in the untouched wilderness of the Beartooth Mountains.
So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to experience the rugged beauty and adventure that awaits on The Beaten Path in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana.
Bitterroot National Forest: Trapper Peak
Bitterroot National Forest is home to Trapper Peak, a strenuous hike that rewards hikers with breathtaking views from its summit. Let’s explore why this trail is a favorite among experienced hikers.
Situated in the heart of the Bitterroot Mountain Range, Trapper Peak stands tall at 10,157 feet, making it the highest point in the forest. This challenging trail offers a true test of endurance, as hikers navigate through steep and rugged terrain. But the effort is well worth it, as the panoramic views from the summit are simply awe-inspiring.
As you make your way up Trapper Peak, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of the nearby Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. The trail takes you through dense forests, alpine meadows, and rocky ridges, offering a diverse and immersive hiking experience.
It’s important to come prepared for this demanding trek. Wear sturdy hiking boots, bring plenty of water, and pack layers to prepare for the changing weather conditions at higher elevations. Keep in mind that this trail is best suited for experienced hikers due to its steep inclines and challenging terrain. Safety should always be a priority, so be sure to check the weather forecast and inform someone of your hiking plans before setting off on this unforgettable adventure.
|Trail Name||Difficulty||Distance||Elevation Gain|
|Trapper Peak||Strenuous||9.6 miles||4,200 feet|
Jewel Basin Hiking Area: Montana’s Hidden Gem
The Jewel Basin Hiking Area is a hidden gem in Montana, boasting a vast trail network and breathtaking mountain vistas. Let’s uncover why this area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Nestled in the heart of the Flathead Valley, the Jewel Basin Hiking Area offers a true wilderness experience. With over 35 miles of trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging summits, hikers of all skill levels can find their perfect adventure here. The area is famous for its pristine alpine lakes, rugged peaks, and abundant wildlife, providing a scenic backdrop for every trek.
- Blackfoot Lakes Trail: This moderate hike takes you to a series of stunning alpine lakes surrounded by wildflowers and towering peaks. It’s a favorite among photographers and nature lovers.
- Mount Aeneas Trail: For those seeking a challenge, the Mount Aeneas Trail offers a steep and exhilarating ascent to the summit of Mount Aeneas. The reward? Sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
- Jewel Basin Loop Trail: This 14-mile loop is a favorite among backpackers. It winds through meadows, forests, and rocky ridges, offering a taste of the area’s diverse landscapes.
Whether you’re seeking solitude or looking to reconnect with nature, the Jewel Basin Hiking Area has something for everyone. Remember to pack plenty of water, snacks, and a camera to capture the awe-inspiring beauty of this hidden sanctuary.
|Blackfoot Lakes Trail||Moderate||6 miles|
|Mount Aeneas Trail||Strenuous||5 miles (round trip)|
|Jewel Basin Loop Trail||Moderate||14 miles|
With its unrivaled natural beauty and diverse range of trails, the Jewel Basin Hiking Area truly lives up to its name. So lace up your hiking boots, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and embark on an adventure you won’t soon forget.
Hidden Gems: Exploring Less-Known Hiking Trails in Montana
While Montana is renowned for its popular hiking trails, there are also hidden gems waiting to be discovered by adventurous souls. Let’s venture off the beaten path and explore the lesser-known hiking trails in the Treasure State. Away from the crowds, these trails offer a chance to immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of Montana’s wilderness.
One such hidden gem is the [Trail Name] located in the [Mountain Range/ National Forest]. This trail offers a unique hiking experience, with its [scenic vistas/ remote wilderness/ diverse wildlife]. The [Trail Name] winds through [description of the trail’s natural features, such as forests, lakes, or mountains]. As you hike along this less-traveled path, you’ll feel a sense of serenity and connection with nature that is hard to find elsewhere.
Another hidden gem awaits in the [Region]. The [Trail Name] is a hidden treasure offering breathtaking views of [description of the scenery and landscape]. This lesser-known trail showcases the untouched beauty of Montana’s wilderness and rewards hikers with a sense of tranquility and solitude. With its [unique features, such as wildflower meadows, cascading waterfalls, or rugged terrain], the [Trail Name] is sure to captivate outdoor enthusiasts seeking a different hiking experience.
|Trail Name||Region/ National Forest||Features|
|[Trail Name]||[Region/ National Forest]||[Description of the trail’s unique features]|
|[Trail Name]||[Region/ National Forest]||[Description of the trail’s unique features]|
So, if you’re seeking an adventure off the beaten path, consider exploring these lesser-known hiking trails in Montana. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting your journey, these hidden gems offer a chance to discover the true beauty and tranquility of the Treasure State. Lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable hiking experience amidst Montana’s breathtaking landscapes.
Tips for Hiking in Montana
Before embarking on your hiking adventure in Montana, it’s essential to be well-prepared and informed. Here are some valuable tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike in Montana’s stunning wilderness.
1. Know the Trail
Research the trail you plan to hike beforehand. Familiarize yourself with the distance, elevation gain, and difficulty level. Check for any trail closures or restrictions and be aware of the weather conditions for your chosen hiking day.
2. Pack Appropriately
Montana’s rugged landscapes demand proper gear and clothing. Wear sturdy, waterproof hiking boots and dress in layers to accommodate changing weather. Carry a backpack with essentials like a trail map, compass, first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, extra clothing, plenty of water, and high-energy snacks.
3. Be Bear Aware
Montana is known for its bear population, so it’s important to be bear aware. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Make noise while hiking to alert bears of your presence, especially in dense foliage or near water sources. Keep food properly stored and away from your camping area to avoid attracting bears.
4. Pace Yourself
Many of Montana’s hiking trails involve elevation gain, so it’s crucial to pace yourself and take breaks as needed. Start your hike early in the day to allow ample time to reach your destination and return before sunset. Listen to your body and adjust your pace accordingly to avoid exhaustion or injury.
|Avalanche Lake||Glacier National Park||Scenic lake surrounded by towering peaks|
|Grinnell Glacier Trail||Glacier National Park||Stunning glacier views and alpine meadows|
|Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail||Flathead National Forest||Waterfall and lush forest scenery|
|Mount Sentinel “M” Trail||Missoula||Panoramic views of Missoula and its surrounding mountains|
|College M Trail||Bozeman||Breathtaking views of the Gallatin Valley|
With its diverse landscapes and breathtaking trails, Montana offers endless opportunities for unforgettable hiking adventures. By following these tips and exploring the recommended trails, you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the state while enjoying a safe and rewarding hiking experience.
Which Hiking Trails in Montana Are Comparable to the Best Trails in Wyoming?
When it comes to the best wyoming hiking trails, Montana boasts some remarkable alternatives. With their stunning landscapes, challenging terrains, and breathtaking views, Montana’s trails offer similar experiences. Whether it’s the renowned Glacier National Park or the picturesque Beartooth Mountains, hikers can find trails to rival the best Wyoming has to offer. Experience nature’s wonders in Montana’s hiking trails.
Montana truly is a hiker’s paradise, offering a wide range of stunning trails that showcase the state’s diverse landscapes and breathtaking vistas. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a challenge or a nature lover seeking tranquility, the 10 best hiking trails in Montana will leave you in awe of the Treasure State’s natural wonders.
In Glacier National Park, Avalanche Lake and Grinnell Glacier Trail offer unforgettable experiences, with their mesmerizing beauty and unique features. Flathead National Forest boasts the Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail and Holland Falls National Recreation Trail, both of which lead hikers through picturesque landscapes and offer opportunities for exploration.
Missoula’s Mount Sentinel “M” Trail rewards adventurers with panoramic views, while Bozeman’s College M Trail treats hikers to stunning vistas in addition to the thrill of conquering its challenging terrain. Big Sky’s Beehive Basin Trail takes hikers through alpine meadows and offers unrivaled views of the surrounding mountains.
The Beaten Path in the Beartooth Mountains and Trapper Peak in Bitterroot National Forest provide more rugged experiences for those seeking a true wilderness adventure. And for those looking to explore less-known trails, the Jewel Basin Hiking Area offers an expansive network of paths that lead to jaw-dropping mountain vistas.
With its abundance of natural beauty and unparalleled hiking options, Montana is a destination that should not be missed by outdoor enthusiasts. So, lace up your boots, pack your sense of adventure, and embark on a journey through Montana’s top hiking trails. The wonders of the Treasure State await!
Q: What are the best hiking trails in Montana?
A: The best hiking trails in Montana include Avalanche Lake and Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park, Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail and Holland Falls National Recreation Trail in Flathead National Forest, Mount Sentinel “M” Trail in Missoula, College M Trail in Bozeman, Beehive Basin Trail in Big Sky, The Beaten Path in the Beartooth Mountains, Trapper Peak in Bitterroot National Forest, and Jewel Basin Hiking Area.
Q: Which hiking trails are located in Glacier National Park?
A: Avalanche Lake and Grinnell Glacier Trail are two of the best hiking trails in Glacier National Park.
Q: What are the notable hiking trails in Flathead National Forest?
A: Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail and Holland Falls National Recreation Trail are popular hiking trails within Flathead National Forest.
Q: Which hiking trail can be found in Missoula?
A: Mount Sentinel “M” Trail is located in Missoula and offers panoramic views and diverse flora and fauna.
Q: What is a recommended hiking trail in Bozeman?
A: College M Trail in Bozeman is a challenging yet rewarding hike known for its scenic beauty and stunning views.
Q: Where is the Beehive Basin Trail located?
A: The Beehive Basin Trail is located in Big Sky and is known for its alpine meadows and stunning mountain views.
Q: What is a challenging hiking trail in the Beartooth Mountains?
A: The Beaten Path in the Beartooth Mountains offers a challenging and scenic hike through stunning mountain landscapes.
Q: Which hiking trail can be found in Bitterroot National Forest?
A: Trapper Peak in Bitterroot National Forest is a strenuous hike that rewards hikers with breathtaking views from its summit.
Q: What is the Jewel Basin Hiking Area known for?
A: The Jewel Basin Hiking Area is a popular spot for hiking, offering an expansive trail network and stunning mountain vistas.
Q: Are there any lesser-known hiking trails in Montana?
A: Yes, Montana has hidden gems beyond the well-known trails, providing hikers with the opportunity to explore less-known hiking trails.
Q: What are some tips for hiking in Montana?
A: When hiking in Montana, it’s important to take safety precautions, pack accordingly, and be aware of hiking in bear country and dealing with elevation gain.