Middle Cottonwood Trail

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Photo by David Tucker

 2.8 miles (round-trip to the most popular turnaround point)

Duration: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: 450 feet

Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, trail running

Crowds: Heavy traffic

This popular trail lies at the western base of the Bridgers, and it provides access to several other trails. Middle Cottonwood meanders through lush forest with continuous creek access for thirsty dogs on hot days. You'll cross the creek several times, over bridges, logs, and rock-hops along the way. After 1 mile, the trail joins the Bridger Foothills trail; the most popular turnaround point is a half-mile farther; at a ridge on the side of Baldy Mountain. For a longer hike, continue north along the creek to traverse the west side of Bridger Peak to reach Truman Gulch; alternatively, head south (right at the Y) to reach the M trail. Carry bear spray.

Seasonal Conditions
Be careful during runoff season; the creek can cover the trail during spring. 

From downtown Bozeman, head north on N. 7th, which turns into Frontage Rd. Turn right onto Springhill Rd.; after approximately 1 mile, turn right onto Sypes Canyon Rd. Turn left onto Summer Cutoff Rd., then turn right onto Saddle Mountain Rd. Just after passing over Middle Cottonwood Creek, curve right to continue onto Saddle Mountain Rd. Head straight for 2 miles to the trailhead on your left. 

Robert Stone's Middle Cottonwood Map

Map courtesy of Robert Stone's Day Hikes Around Bozeman, Montana.

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