Ah, Summer in the Mountains
Summers in the mountains are a magical time; dry warm temps, longer days, amazing sunsets, never-ending list of outdoor adventures the beauty and opportunities of summer delight all ages. The daily question is what to do; to bike, fish, hike, climb, explore? While there are many wild adventures to choose from, hiking is one of our favorite outdoor activities as you can capture so many other activities all the while hiking.
The Trail Options Are Endless
For beauty and convenience, stay local with the stunning Ousel Falls trail; complete with a nicely maintained trail, waterfall and at just two miles round trip, this hike is one to enjoy with the entire family. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and not afraid of a little elevation gain, Beehive Basin (7.1 miles) or Lava Lake (5.5 miles) are great options with high alpine lakes at the pinnacle of the trail and wildflowers galore. Interested in a little fishing while hiking? Golden Trout Lakes is an ideal option located in the Gallatin Canyon, complete with a trout lake and just under 5 miles.
10 of Our Favorite “local” Hikes
The options are truly endless when it comes to hiking in the mountains. To get you started, here are 10 of our favorite trails within 30 minutes of the heart of Big Sky.
- Ousel FallsThis hike may be one of the most popular activities in all of Big Sky due to the nicely maintained trail (stroller friendly) and the beautiful waterfall feature. This hike meanders along the South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River to a stunning waterfall and is truly designed for people of all ages and abilities.
Location Big Sky Meadow Village
Distance 1.6 Miles
Elevation Gain 252′
- HummocksAt just under 3 miles with minimal elevation gain, this trail is an optimum option for those just getting into town. For those looking for more of a challenge, Uplands Trail is easy to add to this local hike. can tack on another 2.2 miles by continuing onto the Uplands Trail, which takes off from the same trailhead. Despite being in town, don’t forget your bear spray and keep your eyes open for moose, elk, foxes, and bears.
Location Located less than one mile from Big Sky Town Center, just above town on Aspen Leaf Drive.
Distance 3 Miles
Elevation Gain 400′
- Ralph’s Pass Known as the “connector” trail between Ousel Falls and Uplands/Hummocks, this 2.7-mile trail is convenient and is a great addition to the local trail system of Big Sky.
Location This trail is accessed via Uplands/Hummocks or Ousel Falls
Distance 2.7 Miles + Ousel Falls Or Uplands Trail
Elevation Gain Unknown
- Golden Trout Lake For the hiker interested in making this a two-sport day, Golden Trout Lake is a great option. This almost five-mile hike is complete with a crystal clear lake that is full of trout and ready to be fished. Pack your fishing gear, and a lunch, and head on out to experience this one-of-a-kind hike.
Location 5.1 miles north of Big Sky Turn off, then 6.8 miles east on Portal Creek Road (Gallatin Canyon)
Distance 5.1 Miles
Elevation Gain 1,300′
- Lava Lake One of the more popular Gallatin Canyon hikes, this trail provides a real workout and is complete with a pristine lake at the pinnacle of the trail to enjoy before heading back down the trail. This trail follows Cascade Creek through a robust evergreen forest and continues past a number of waterfalls to the lake surrounded by rock walls and old-growth trees.
Location 13.5 miles North of the Big Sky Conoco. Located off of the Cascade Creek Road.
Distance 6 Miles
Elevation Gain 1,636′
- Beehive BasinBoasting some of the most breathtaking views of Big Sky, this moderately defined 6.6-mile round trip hike is one to add to your list. Unlike many trails, as you approach the top of the hike, you’ll find yourself in a spectacular glacial cirque and greeted by a crystal clear high alpine lake.
Location This trailhead is off of Beehive Basin Road, located on your right approximately 2 miles from Big Sky Resort Entrance.
Distance 6.6 Miles
Elevation Gain 1,625′
- Spanish Creek This trail truly offers something for everyone, for an easy family-friendly outing, take the scenic out-and-back trail option along Spanish Creek (2 miles one way). For those wishing to take it to the next level, the options are almost endless with access to several of the Spanish Peaks, with the highest, Gallatin Peak, at 11,000 feet.
Location From Big Sky drives 20 miles north on Highway 191. Shortly after crossing over Spanish Creek, turn left onto Spanish Creek Road. Follow Spanish Creek Road 9 miles through the Flying D Ranch to the Spanish Creek Trailhead.
Distance 7.5 miles (one way)
Elevation Gain 2,256′
- Summit LakeSummit Lake sits among the Spanish Peaks in a high alpine environment. If you’re looking for a challenging day hike, this is an excellent choice.
Location North Fork Trailhead
Distance 15.7 Miles
Elevation Gain 3,250′
There Truly is Something for Everyone
These eight hikes are just a few of the many options in the area. Whether you’re solo, with the whole family or with a few adventurous friends you should be able to find something enjoyable no matter the group dynamics. Be curious, be adventurous, get outside, and take in all that fresh mountain air.