6 Marvelous Hikes in Montana - Go Wandering

6 Marvelous Hikes in Montana

By Shannon Alfes |
6 Marvelous Hikes in Montana
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Hiking is known to cleanse the mind, free the spirit and mold the body. Montana has grown a reputation for being one of the top hiking destinations on the globe today. Ensure you don't miss this experience next time you pass through Montana or plan a vacation in the state.

The western half of Montana is characterized by numerous mountain ranges, whereas the eastern is mainly prairie terrain and badlands with more (albeit smaller) mountain ranges found throughout the state. The famous Rocky Mountains are located in Montana.

Montana has a couple of "unofficial" nicknames which describe it best, most notably; The Treasure State, Big Sky, The Last Best Place, and Land of the Shining Mountains. A whopping 13 million annual tourists visit Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Beartooth Highway, Flathead Lake, Big Sky Resort, among other attractions each year.

Top 6 hiking trails to look out for in Montana

Montana is a top-tier destination for tourists that come from various corners of the globe as many seek to catch a glimpse of this vast mountainous state. From the great hiking trails in Glacier National Park to the wild Big Sky adventures, Montana embodies rugged hiking trails worth the experience. Montana is a place for everyone, from the hard-core backcountry treks and challenging day hikes to family-friendly nature, wildlife, and history walks. It is a well-endowed region that suits every tourist.

The western part of the state is filled with wild natural spaces and hundreds of hiking trails along its iconic Rocky Mountain terrain. The vast number of natural forests on the western half is the top hotspots for great hiking trails, partially boosted by the giant cedars in Kootenai National Forest. In addition, there is massive traffic at the ice caves found here. These are in Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest and the Crazy Mountains in Custer Gallatin National Forest. Montana being a less populated state boosts abundance in public space. For example, Glacier National Park, also known as the Crown of the Continent, has over 700 miles of hiking routes.

  1. Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area

The far northwest part of Montana, near the Idaho border and within the Kootenai National Forest, the Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area is home to trees that come close to 1000 years in age. You can hike under a thick canopy of gigantic western cedars, with some towering to a height of 175 feet. The 100-acre rainforest area protects giant trees on an accessible nature trail, starts from the parking area, and crosses Ross Creek while looping through part of the grove. One of the top ways to experience the Ross Creek Cedars is by taking a self-guided hike along the Ross Creek Nature Trail. To enjoy it extensively, Ross Creek Trail continues from the grove for over 4 remarkable miles.

  1. Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

About 30 miles south of Lewistown, there is an extensive snowy mountain range within central Montana. This unique trail also has year-round ice caves that are accessible and open to tourists. Crystal Lake Campground often being the start point, the course is said to ascend over 2,200 feet in the first three miles before traversing the flat top of the Snowy Crest to the ice caves. Along with the slippery interiors of these caves, illustrious views of the surrounding mountain ranges such as the Crazy Mountain can be spotted.

  1. Jewel Basin Hiking Area/Flathead National Forest

Located about 30 miles east of Kalispell, Jewel Basin is regarded as a unique hiking and backpacking-only destination in the Swan Mountains' northern region. There is an estimated 35 miles of hiking trails that wind throughout the alpine environment that is clustered with lakes. Birch Lake, which holds renowned fishing in Jewel Basin, is reached within a 3-mile hike from the Camp Misery Trailhead. For an extensive adventure, hikers can continue another 3 miles down the trail to the deeper waters of Crater Lake. A complete trip of about six miles to the Peak of Aeneas Mountain can also be made in a day from the Camp Misery Trailhead.

  1. Beehive Basin Trail/Big Sky Resort

Not far from the chairlifts of Big Sky Resort, a rather famous ski resort, lies the hike into the Beehive Basin glacier valley. It is one of the best day hikes in the United States. It is about 3 miles between Beehive Basin Trailhead and Beehive Basin, with an elevation gain of 1500 feet. The trail is well marked and traveled. The beautiful Lone Peak and primeval alpine meadows are often a marvel for hikers. The hike to Ousel Falls is another popular one, located only 10 miles from Beehive Basin Trailhead, offering a family-friendly 2-mile round trip.

  1. Trapper Peak/Bitterroot National Forest

The Bitterroot National forest, sitting on 1.6 million acres, harbors the Bitterroot Mountains alongside the Sapphire Mountains to the east. Elevations range between 3,200 feet to 10,157 feet, which is the top of Trapper Peak. It is a steep but low-distance summit hike that offers fantastic vistas of the mountain's surrounding area. There are different routes up the mountain, with the classic hike departing from Trapper Peak Trailhead and running over 4 miles to the summit. An alternative – albeit more demanding – Trapper Peak summit hike leads past Gem and Baker Lakes. There are other peaks to hike to, such as Lolo Peak and St. Mary Peak. In addition, the Blodgett Canyon Trail leads to beautiful waterfalls and other natural features.

  1. Stuart Peak/Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

This hike appeals to both local and foreign tourists. This is due to the University City of Missoula in the western part of Montana, surrounded by great hiking destinations on all sides. A 6-mile drive from Missoula can access it, and the Rattlesnake Main Trailhead offers an illustrious number of trails to explore. The most prominent of them being the 7980-foot Stuart Peak. It is about 10 miles from the main trailhead up to Stuart Peak with an elevation gain of 4500 feet. It is prominent for hikers looking to spend the night next to the alpine lakes.

It’s no wonder that Montana is a mecca for all levels of hikers, from the utterly breathtaking views and opportunities to completely unplug and be at one with the immaculate nature. Even if you don’t consider yourself a hiker by any means, if you find yourself in Montana and with some extra time on your hands, certainly check out at least one of these hikes that will undoubtedly leave you in awe.

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