Wildflowers give you the best of nature’s beauty, often surprising you with flashes of color as you trek along a hiking trail. You really can’t go wrong with a hike in Bozeman around wildflower season, which can range from April to July and beyond, depending on elevation. But there are some spots that are even more spectacular than others. Here are some of the best wildflower hikes around Bozeman, Montana.
The M Trail
As one of the most popular trails in Bozeman, the College M trail is a great spot for a quick workout as you huff and puff your way up this steep climb. But each spring as arrowleaf balsamroot blooms, its vibrant yellow flowers grow in great bushy clumps all the way up the steepest section of trail. Even if you’d rather skip the leg burner and just cut straight to the flowers, you can hike the longer route to the M and see the hillside of blooms spreading out beneath you.
Lewis & Clark Caverns: Greer Gulch Trail
Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is just under an hour from Bozeman, and it’s well worth the drive if your goal is catching native blooms in action. Sure, the park might be known for its titular cave, but the 10 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails hold a whole host of species to discover. The trails take you through multiple different habitat types, so you can spot flowers in high desert environments not far from the lush, green riparian near the creek. In particular, Greer Gulch Trail, a two-mile loop with a trailhead midway up the park road, lets you survey species from rose and larkspur to prickly pear and bitterroot, Montana’s state flower.
You’ll notice a theme of wildflower hikes in the Bridgers, and that’s for good reason. Its alpine environment lends itself well to several different growing seasons, with microclimates in each gully and canyon that give you many unique locations to wander for wildflowers. Sypes Canyon is one of these, a pretty spot to check out the more sheltered area. You’ll still find ample amounts of that vivid yellow arrowleaf balsamroot, along with other colors.
Fairy Lake Trail
Fairy Lake, on the east side of the Bridger Mountains, is a popular spot because of its gentle path around this scenic alpine lake, but it holds more allure as well. You’ll find meadows of flowers throughout each growing season, and if you look closely enough you may spot some orchids, especially coral roots. Green gentian, also known as monument plant, is another common species to see reaching for the sun as you climb higher into the mountains from here.
Copper City Trails
The trails at Copper City are optimized for mountain bikes, but foot traffic is permitted as well. As you cruise this trail system, you can find a number of unique plains and arid-loving species like showy daisy, prickly pear, Missouri beehive cactus, death camus and lance-leaf stonecrop.
Hyalite Reservoir offers up more than just ice climbing, epic hikes, reservoir recreation and spring road biking. It also is home to native plants that share their buds and blooms. Shooting stars (not the celestial kind, though this is a spot for enjoying those night sky views, too!) mark the first signs of spring along with yellow bells, and Indian paintbrush comes a little later in the season. Whether you tromp to History Rock or Grotto Falls, you’re bound to spot some color during summer months. You can’t go wrong hiking up here when the flowers are blooming, with meadows filled with flowers waiting for frolicking.
Looking for more hiking trails? Check out The 10 Best Hikes in Bozeman. For more travel tips as you plan your outdoor adventures in Bozeman, download the Bozeman Travel Guide below.