6 Incredible Big Sky Summer Hikes You Need to Check Out
Uncover Some of Big Sky's Most Impressive Mountain Views on these Magnificent Summer Hiking Trails
Embarking on summer hikes in Big Sky, MT is an invigorating way to explore the remarkable wilderness and embrace the unparalleled beauty of this enchanting region. With its vast expanse of towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant alpine meadows, Big Sky offers a myriad of summer hiking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.
Whether you're seeking a leisurely stroll through lush forests, a challenging ascent to a panoramic viewpoint, or a serene lakeside trek, Big Sky's diverse landscape can cater to any hiker's desire. As you traverse the well-marked trails, you'll be immersed in a symphony of natural sights and sounds, discovering hidden gems at every turn.
So, lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to embark on a memorable journey through the captivating summer hikes of Big Sky. Here are the six hiking trails you need to check out first on your Big Sky summer vacation.
1) Ousel Falls - Easy
The out-and-back trail to Ousel Falls spans 1.5 miles and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. On this trail, you'll follow the scenic Gallatin River on a well-marked and easy path to the titular falls at the end.
As one of the more popular trails around Big Sky, you're likely to see other people hiking or trail-running at Ousel Falls. Not to worry though, as there's plenty of room for everyone to enjoy this short but scenic trek. Plus, Ousel Falls is a dog-friendly trail that makes for a great morning or afternoon walking route.
Starting from Big Sky Mountain Resort, you can reach the Ousel Falls trailhead by heading east on Lone Mountain Rd (MT-64) for 6 miles. Then, turn right onto Ousell Falls Rd for 2 miles where the trailhead will be on your left.
2) Moose Tracks Trail - Easy/Moderate
Moose Tracks is another out-and-back trail that's popular among locals and visitors to Big Sky. The full trail spans a distance of 6.1 miles and takes around 3.5 hours to complete. You'll start at the base of Big Sky Resort's Swift Current chairlift and ascend partway up Lone Mountain to reach some astonishings views overlooking the resort and surrounding landscape.
Although Moose Tracks can be a lengthy summer hike in Big Sky, it's still a popular trail for hikers of all experience levels. The trail is easy to follow and offers great views throughout, so you can cut the hike short without worrying about missing too much. Like Ousell Falls, this trail is dog-friendly so long as you keep your dog on a leash.
3) Albino Lake Trail - Easy/Moderate
The Albino Lake Trail is a quieter out-and-back hike that spans 5.7 miles and takes around 2 hours to complete. Unlike the other hikes on this list, which cover much ground under a thick forest canopy, this trail is largely out in the open along rolling alpine meadows.
Those wide open views provide some truly magnificent views for your eyes to feast upon. Clear days allow you to see the impressive Koch Peak and Taylor Hilgards as you meander through the meadow. Plus, the titular Albino Lake is gobsmacking to behold.
Albino Lake is a little further out of town than some of the other trails on this list. From Big Sky Resort, head east on Lone Mountain Rd (MT-64) for 8.7 miles before turning right onto US-191 S/Gallatin Rd. Continue for 14.2 miles and then turn right onto Taylor Fork Rd where you'll contine for 3.9 miles until you find the trailhead on your right.
4) Beehive Basin Trail No. 40 - Moderate
Widely regarded as the best summer hike in Big Sky, Beehive Basin offers up everything from tranquil forest stretches to wide open alpine peak and lake views. The out-and-back trail spans 6.9 miles and takes roughly 3.75 hours to complete.
Although this trail might be a challenge for younger kids, Beehive Basin Trail No. 40 is one of the more popular family friendly hikes around. The breathtaking views keep you moving all the way to the top of the trail where a gorgeous alpine lake awaits you. It's the perfect spot to stop and rest for a quick picnic before heading back into town. Some of the most daring hikers even wade out into the alpine lake waters for a brisk refresh.
To get to the Beehive Basin Trailhead from Big Sky Resort, turn left onto Lone Mountain Rd for 1.4 miles and then turn right onto Beehive Basin Rd. Drive for 1.1 miles and make a slight right onto Summit View Dr before continuing left onto Beehive Basin Rd for another half mile. The trailhead will then be on the right.
5) Golden Trout Lakes - Moderate/Hard
This gorgeous trail in the Custer Gallatin National Forest is a wonderful place to get lost in nature (metaphorically speaking). Golden Trout Lakes is an out-and-back trail that spans 4.5 miles and takes about 2.5 hours to complete.
As the name would suggest, this trail leads to a great fishing spot at it's titular lakes. Even if you're not an alpine angler, there's still plenty of fresh air and scenery to enjoy on this moderately challeging summer hike. Golden Trout Lakes is also a great hiking trail to take your dogs and even let them walk off-leash in some areas.
To get to Golden Trout Lakes trailhead from Big Sky Resort, head west on Lone Mountain Trail to Gallatin Rd for 9.3 miles. Then, turn left onto Gallatin Rd and drive for 5.3 miles until you reach Portal Creek Rd. Drive for 3.8 miles before making a slight left onto Fs 2686 and continuing another 3 miles until you reach the trailhead.
NOTE: The final stretch from Portal Creek Rd to the trailhead requires a 4WD vehicle with high clearance.
6) Lava Lake Trail - Moderate/Hard
The final summer hike you need to check out during your visit is the Lava Lake Trail (AKA Cascade Creek Trail). This beautiful out-and-back trail spans 6 miles and takes roughtly 3.5 hours to complete.
Although Lava Lake Trail is a bit long and features 1,620 ft of elevation gain, the rewarding views you get are well-worth the effort. The trail follows Cascade Creek through the forest near Gallatin Gateway and ends with a spectacular view of Lava Lake surrounded by 10,000-ft peaks. If the regular trail isn't enough for you, there's an unofficial extended path that's well-worn and takes you to the other side of the lake. Although it's hard to get lost along the banks of a lake, still take caution if you choose to walk this extended trail.
To reach the Lava Lake Trailhead from Big Sky Resort, head west on Lone Mountain Trail for 8.3 miles until you reach US-191 N/Gallatin Rd. Stay on US-191 N for 13.5 miles, and then make a sharp left onto Cascade Creek Rd where the trailhead will be on your right.
Those are our favorite summer hikes that you have to check out during your visit to Big Sky, MT. Head over to our blog feed to find more exciting Montana travel tips, and book you stay with an Ascend Big Sky vacation rental.