Where can I go Hiking or Backpacking?
The Spanish Peaks and Madison Mountains offer extensive trail networks in Gallatin National Forest near Big Sky. For those interested in shorter or guided hikes, local ski areas offer lift access. Just to the south of Big Sky, Yellowstone National Park also has a variety of hiking trails, some of which are appropriate for the whole family. Trail maps are available at local outdoor shops, bookstores, or forest service offices.
Here are a few favorite local hikes in the Big Sky Area:
Within Big Sky
- Beehive Basin
Easily accessible from Big Sky Resort, this great half-day hike leads to a few beautiful mountain lakes, and is considered fairly easy. However, the last bit is steep and at high elevation. To reach the trailhead, drive past the entrance to Big Sky Resort and follow the Beehive Basin Road to the north. The trailhead will be obvious.
- Ousel Falls
This easy 2 mile hike is fantastic for families and ends at a spectacular waterfall. There are picnic benches along the way that are great for a picnic.
- Lone Peak
The quintessential Big Sky hike, Lone Peak can actually be reached by a combination of scenic chairlift ride and exposed ridge hike to the top.
- Ulery's Lake
From Moonlight Basin, follow the mellow Ulery's Loop Trail out to the scenic Ulery's Lake.
North of Big Sky
- Lava Lake
The reward of reaching Lava Lake is well worth tackling the somewhat steep trail. The hike to the lake is about 3 miles and should take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours depending on the hiker. Plan on spending a little time at the lake for pictures and bring a sandwich for lunch. The trail does continue on if you decide you'd like to hike longer. The trailhead is approximately 15 miles north towards Bozeman, just past the 35-mph bridge. You will actually have to drive past the Lava Lake trailhead sign to the next pullout, turn around and then pull into the road.
Northeastern Yellowstone National Park
This is an easy open hike with a gradual incline leading to trails within Yellowstone National Park. It is a great one for kids or those not accustomed to lots of hiking. Located approximately 14 miles south of Big Sky, the trailhead is on the left and is the last trail before crossing into Yellowstone National Park.
- Lemondrop Loop
This short hike is rewarded by wonderful views looking towards Yellowstone National Park and Lone Peak. Start at Porcupine Creek Trailhead (just south of the turnoff to Big Sky) and follow the trail that circumnavigates the Lemondrop. If you want to continue your hike, head further up Porcupine Creek or complete the Grizzly Loop.
Many Grizzly and Black bears live in the Big Sky area, with some areas specified as protected habitats for Grizzly bears. Chances are you will never see a bear, but we do recommend people carry bear spray and make lots of noise when hiking. Hiking in groups of 2 or more is always a good idea.