Fall is really the best time to get out and hike in Bozeman. The trails aren't as crowded, the weather is a perfect temperature, and the scenery is spectacular. We've put together a quick list of hikes near Bozeman for you to maximize the fall weather this season. Some of these hikes are right in Bozeman and some require a little drive, but we promise nothing will take you away from Bozeman for too long!
1. New World Gulch Trail
This trail is great because it's fairly dynamic. The terrain changes a lot over just 2.2 miles to your destination. The trail starts off in the drainage following Bear Creek up to New World Gulch. You will climb through the canyon, past the creek, in heavily wooded forest right before coming upon the Gulch. Bring a snack and enjoy it in the meadow before you turn around. I've seen wildlife up here so be respectful and carry bear spray in case. If you're feeling ambitious once you reach New World Gulch you can continue on to Mystic Lake for another 2.5 miles. This hike is totally worthy for your quick day hike list so grab the dog (they can be off leash) and get out for a few hours this fall.
2. Triple Tree Trail
This is a local favorite as it's located on the South Side of town. The views of the Gallatin Valley at the top are spectacular and worth the 2.25 miles to the top. The trail starts out fairly moderate, weaving through aspens and following a creek until it turns into switchbacks up the hill. The switchbacks aren't terrible as the trail only gains 800 feet by the time you reach the top. You'll meet plenty of Bozemanites and mountain bikers along the way, so keep the dogs on a leash, stay alert and enjoy the trail!
3. Pioneer Falls
The Spanish Peaks are just South of Bozeman, accessed via the Gallatin Canyon and provides some pristine recreation areas. It's a fantastic scenic drive before you even get to the trail head, meandering through private land which is home to a herd of buffalo who sometimes make their presence known. The actual Pioneer Falls trail is a 7.5 mile loop that gets a bit more difficult right before you reach the falls. Until then you follow the creek until you reach a fork in the trail, heading to your right. The falls doesn't disapoint and is a great place to stop and take a rest, cooling off with a little mist from the waterfall.
4. Sypes Canyon
This is a fairly quick afternoon hike if you're looking to get your heart rate up fairly quickly. Located on the North side of town, access to the trail head takes you through the Springhill neighborhood to the base of the Bridger Mountains. You gain elevation fairly quickly hitting switch backs that will take you to the overlook at about 2.8 miles. You can continue on and hook up with a few other trails, Truman Gulch, The College M trail, or Middle Cottonwood. Overall the 5.6 mile loop offers a good afternoon hike close to Bozeman.
5. Sacajawea Peak
If you are really looking for a challenge with a great reward then this is the perfect hike. This 4 mile round trip hike starts at Fairy Lake and gains 2000 feet in the ascent. The road to Fairy lake can be a little rough so maybe avoid the road if it's muddy and you don't have 4WD. The trail doesn't look long or tough from the base, but by the time you reach the top you will be thankful its over. The views are unlike any other and worth every bead of sweat. Often times you will see mountain goats and other wildlife if you're lucky. Plan on packing a lunch and either enjoying it at the top of the peak (if it isn't to windy) or while hanging out at the lake after you're done.
Montana likes to put on a show during fall with the changing colors and dwindling summer sunsets. You really can't go wrong with any hiking around Bozeman in the fall. So bring a jacket and a camera to capture the last of the warm weather before ski season hits.