5 Waterfall Hikes Near Bozeman
I’m such a sucker for a good waterfall. When hiking, there’s just something sweet about that extra payoff. You emerge from a wooded area or get over an incline and bam! You’re smacked in the face with the sights and sounds of cool, rushing water. Ahhhhhhh. There are so many amazing waterfalls hikes near Bozeman that it’s really hard to choose. I’ve put together a list of five of my favorites, some well-known and hopefully some new ones for you to explore. Enjoy!
Image Courtesy of TripAdvisor
Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 274 feet
Distance from Bozeman: 22 miles
You can’t talk about waterfall hikes without mentioning Hyalite Canyon. Boasting 11 waterfall hikes within its boundaries, this favorite outdoor recreation destination is an absolute treasure trove. Yes, I could have started with Palisade Falls, but everyone knows that one. If you push about 3 miles passed the Palisade trailhead (yes, on that bumpy dirt road), you’ll get to the Grotto Falls trailhead. This is another nice, easy hike that yields a wonderful finish. The falls rage pretty heavy in the spring and early summer, but they are great to see any time you can. In short, hike yourself into Hyalite and enjoy as many waterfalls as possible.
Image Courtesy of AllTrails
Distance: 6.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,026 feet
Distance from Bozeman: 28 miles
This hike is also in the Hyalite Canyon region, and you can actually get to it from the Grotto Falls trailhead. However, just be very aware of where you are because the trail isn’t all that well marked. In addition, be vigilant of what your GPS says. This waterfall can also be reached from the Gallatin Canyon and Storm Castle Road, so feel free to choose your own adventure! While this one is a bit longer, there are actually multiple waterfalls, small and large, along the way for you to stop and admire. The destination, of course, is Champagne Falls, which it’s twisting, windy finish among the rocks below. This is an excellent way to spend the day if you’re looking for a longer hike with a lot of water features!
Image Courtesy of Liberty Lake Anne
Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 252 feet
Distance from Bozeman: 46 miles
Another beautiful area we’re so lucky to have near Bozeman is Gallatin Canyon. This winding jaunt has endless opportunities for fun and unique hikes, one of the most popular being Storm Castle for its view. Ousel Falls is a great hike for families, kids, and dogs, as long as you keep your pooch on a leash. Starting out in Big Sky, this is a little trail with a big finish! The stair-step effect of the rocks as the Gallatin River cascades over is a wonderful payoff for a hike. There are even a few benches and picnic tables to rest at along the way or even if you just want to spend a bit more time on your hike. Fun fact, Ousel Falls gets its name from the American Dipper bird, also known as the Ousel Bird. Neat!
Pine Creek Falls
Image Courtesy of AllTrails
Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 390 feet
Distance from Bozeman: 40 miles
If we venture over Bozeman Pass and down into Livingston, you can get an opportunity to hike to Pine Creek Falls. This is definitely another favorite amongst the locals because it’s a short, fairly easy hike that’s perfect for guests. There’s lots of shade along this trail, which is nice for those hot Montana afternoons. Be aware of the time of year you travel this hike. In spring and early summer, it’s another powerful waterfall, but that can also mean sometimes there will be snow and it will probably be muddy. Just be prepared for the elements. One of the neat features here is the little wooden bridge at the base of the falls. This offers you the full effect of the waterfall, feeling some of that cool mist on your face!
Image Courtesy of Sweet Grass Chamber of Commerce
Distance: 0.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 65 feet
Distance from Bozeman: 110 miles
Okay, okay, I’m playing fast and loose with the “near Bozeman” part of this blog, but I just couldn't resist putting The Natural Bridge Falls on this list. It is a beautiful and wonderfully easy hike not far from Big Timber, Montana. If you can’t tell, I’m all for short hikes with big payoffs. And this one takes the gold! With a fantastically maintained footpath and a really neat bridge over the Boulder River, the finish is water crashing over a 105-foot-tall limestone cliff. While the actual natural bridge eroded in the 1980s, the sights and sounds here are pure awesome. Another cool thing about this little trail is the all-weather access. It’s pretty gorgeous to see the river dotted with snow in winter, and who doesn’t love a good cold-weather hike? Lots of area to explore around here and a whole day-use space where you can have a little picnic, I say make a day out of it! Big Timber is a neat little town in its own right, so what a fun bonus!
Written by: Cassi Miller