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In Montana, when the pavement ends a hiking trail almost always begins.
Trails in the Treasure State cross mountains, ford rivers, and descend through meadows – from mild to wild, they always offer adventure and best of all are almost always free.
Glacier and Yellowstone national parks each offer hundreds of miles of trails. In Glacier you can tromp past curious mountain goats and up to ancient snowfields, while in Yellowstone you can spy geysers while keeping a keen eye out for bears.
Near Red Lodge, trails cross the oxygen-starved Beartooth Plateau and lead to lakes and streams. East of Great Falls, hikers will find empty trails angling up, down, and around the Big Belt Mountains. Closer to Helena, trails in the Little Belt Mountains summit alpine crags and offer hundred-mile views.
In Missoula, hop on the Kim Williams Trail, a riverside greenway which links parks, restaurants, and the University of Montana. A similar trail along the Missouri in Great Falls takes you to Giant Springs State Park and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
Hikers in Bozeman will find famous trails in the Gallatin Mountains, while those staying near Livingston can hike in the little-known Crazy Mountains.
Hiking & Walking Trails in Big Sky Country
Montana is always ready for lovers of the great outdoors – and the best way to explore this scenic playground is by foot. Hiking and walking trails course through Big Sky Country, so let’s find one right for you.
Set in northwestern Montana, the Glacier National Park – also known as the Crown of the Continent – is a million-acre park set northeast of cities like Whitefish and Kalispell.
Glacier National Park encompasses more than 700 miles of hiking trail, including 110 miles of the famed Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.
Hikers are encouraged to trek down the 52-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, or discover the hiking trails at Logan Pass, Two Medicine, and St. Mary Valley.
A small portion of the Yellowstone National Park dips into the southwest corner of Montana, and can be reached through cities like West Yellowstone and Gardiner. Other trails in the area are found within the Gallatin National Forest, and include Coffin Lake Trail, Kirkwood Trail, and Red Canyon Trail.
Traveling history buffs are also in luck, as Montana offers plenty of historic trails and national monuments. Take a walking tour of the famed Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument – found within the Crow Agency near Billings.
Need more of a challenge? Visit Great Falls for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center – where guided hikes are lead along the four-mile Sulphur Springs Hiking Trail.
Horse & Bike Trails in Big Sky Country
Hundreds of miles of trail course through Montana – and if you’re looking to get off your feet, bike and horseback trails may be your answer.
Brought your bike? Head to northern Montana for the Highwoods Mountain Loop Trail just east of Great Falls. This 12-mile mountain bike excursion is for the experienced cyclist, and is set in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, amidst the Highwoods “island” Mountain Range.
Mountain biking is also rampant in the Elkhorn Mountains near Elkhorn Mine – set in western Montana just south of Helena.
For both biking and horseback riding, make your way to northwestern Montana for the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness.
Just northwest of Missoula, the RNRAW is part of the Lolo National Forest, and features mountain biking routes like the Rattlesnake Main Trail, Ravine Creek Trail, Sawmill Trail, and Woods Gulch Trail. Horseback riding is available along the Rattlesnake Horse Trail – a comfortable horse trail that eventually joins the Rattlesnake Main Trail.
More horseback riding adventures are found in Montana, including trails throughout the Gallatin River Valley, the Gallatin Mountains, and the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area.
Montana is full of stables and horseback adventure companies, but what if you’re looking for a four-legged friend of your own for those trips down the trail? Make your way to the eastern Montana town of Miles City – host of the heavily anticipated World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale.
Visitors and residents of northern Montana who enjoy zooming along on two wheels through the beautiful Montana landscape, have a wonderful resource near Great Falls. Highwoods Mountain Loop is a twelve-mile mountain bike trail, one of the finest single-track mountain bike trails in the state.
The buffed out trails throughout the Highwood Mountains makes for great riding, with plenty of grade for a good challenge.
Riders, be prepared for not only powering through the steep ascents, but for the fast descents, as you make your way along the trail. Each season in the beautiful Lewis and Clark National Forest brings a different surrounding landscape, from the spring wildflowers to the fall golden leaves. Be sure to stop for a moment to appreciate its natural beauty.