Get the grams and snap up as many photos as you can when you visit the whimsical downtown district of Bozeman, Montana. But when it comes to Big Sky country, you need to get the shot of your life with a little big sky in the mix. These hikes make easy trips with huge rewards to experience through your lens.
The M Trail
The vistas from the popular M trail are the biggest payoff for the least work that you can find in Bozeman. Head out of town toward Bridger Bowl, and look for the trailhead sign on the left. You’ll know you’re there when you see the full parking lot. Don’t let a few other trail users put you off—it’s so popular because the views are so fabulous.
Drinking Horse Mountain
It may be a little lower in elevation than the M trail, but the Drinking Horse Mountain trail will give your photos a whole new perspective. Get stunning views of the Gallatin Valley, and then skirt around as the trail loops the hillside to show you views up Bridger Canyon. You’ll find the trailhead just across the street from the M.
Get a little more remote and take the camera out to South Cottonwood. Burbling brooks and rustic log footbridges give you a unique angle on the wilds of Montana without having to go far from town. And with the possibility of stumbling upon owls and other wildlife, your finger will be itching at the shutter. Head out to Cottonwood Canyon Road and start up the switchbacks. The trail levels out and takes you on a gentle stroll through fields of wildflowers.
The Palisade Falls hike gives you an easily accessible asphalt trail up to one of Montana’s favorite falls. The high drop of the water combined with light softly filtered through the trees and diffused by the surrounding grey cliffs gives you prime photo ops. Head up to Hyalite Reservoir, and cruise along the water’s edge to make it down the well-maintained dirt road to the trailhead.
Head down from Palisade Falls and back to Hyalite Reservoir, the vista equivalent of Glacier National Park found right here in Southwest Montana. This easy trip outside of Bozeman gives you a stunning drive along the way, capped with mountains rising above the crystal waters of the reservoir. Take your pick of short lakeside jaunts to get the best angle on snow-capped peaks. And don’t forget those splashing water shots that do the dual duty of helping cool off on a hot day.
The Peets Hill walking and biking trails through Burke Park connect up with other of Bozeman’s Main Street to Mountains trails. But this section gives you the best juxtaposition of urban and nature you can find in town. Head up the hill at dusk to capture the lowering light of golden hour as the city lights start to twinkle below. Pegged as the “best sunset view in Bozeman,” this quick hike will take you to new heights without having to head out of town. Grab the camera bag and head to the trailhead near the Bozeman public library.
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