With such little time before it starts snowing again, it’s important to do the very best rides around Bozeman. This bucket list is meant to pique your interest to get out and explore new areas by bicycle. For further details, consult the local bike shops, grab a good map, and hit the road for an excellent weekend Outside Bozeman.
Porcupine Creek: Just east of Big Sky, this big drainage offers several loop options from the Porcupine Trailhead. Grizzly Loop is a good 90-minute teaser, or go big with a 11-mile counterclockwise loop from Buffalo Horn to Porcupine. Plan for a scenic six-hour cruise for the latter option and grab a post-shuttle feast at 320 Ranch—barbeques every Monday and Wednesday.
Bangtail Divide : This can be ridden as a scenic point-to-point, or as a loop on the road up Bridger Canyon north of Bozeman. Park at Brackett Creek and ride 22 miles to Stone Creek. An out-and-back from Stone Creek is one of the best singletrack fixes close to Bozeman.
CDT Butte: Park in cul-de-sac 100 yards south of the I-90 Homestake Pass exit. Ride south out of the parking lot on a sublime section of the Continental Divide Trail. Options include an out-and-back to Pipestone Pass, or add a Beaver Pond or Toll Canyon loop onto the ride before returning to your vehicle. Plan for three to four hours.
Blue Joint: Forty miles south of Hamilton, take West Fork Road northwest of Sula, and park at the Blue Joint trailhead. There’s an out-and-back, plus three loop options up to 36 miles. A local favorite. Grab a memorable meal at the rustic West Fork Lodge to refuel.
Falls Creek: Turn north off Hwy. 200 at Ovando, and park at the Monture trailhead. One mile up Monture Creek, turn right up Falls Creek, and climb to Camp Pass or further north to Conger Point for a memorable out-and-back. Allow four-plus hours. Load up with tasty pedal powered calories at The Stray Bullet Cafe in Ovando. Try the pie.
West Big Hole : Park and camp at Jackson Hot springs or Lower Miner Lake in the Big Hole Valley. Ride up and fish at Upper Miner Lake or use newly reconstructed CDT to link together several alpine drainages. Soak, eat, and rehydrate back at Jackson Hot Springs.
The Big Snowies: The West Peak Loop offers great car camping and swimming at Crystal Lake with a ridge traverse complete with ice caves and big views of the eastern prairie and wind farm—a classic summer refresher. Killer milkshakes can be found at the Mercantile in Judith Jap.
Mile Creek to Sheep Lake : This loop is a big epic in the Henry’s Lake Range just northeast of Raynolds Pass. Mile Creek itself is one of the best out-and-back single tracks in the region that climbs 50 switchbacks to a scenic 10,000 foot saddle. If you want more, there are several car shuttle options to Targhee Pass, or do the whole 25-mile monster loop. The Happy Hour Bar on Hebgen Lake is a scenic and satisfying refueling stop.
Hyalite to Storm Castle : Take a shuttle or ride the out-and-back to the Hyalite / Storm Castle divide. Start at the Hyalite Creek trailhead, and if you got there by shuttle, bike up and over to a car dropped at the Gallatin River. A country omelet at the Castle Rock Inn will put you in a serious backcountry mood. Respect Time Share closure days starting July 15.
Curly Lake : This loop in the Tobacco Root Mountains is a late-summer classic. Access the South Boulder Road from Caldwell off I-90. Park at Rock Creek and ride it clockwise. Riding Lost Cabin Lake and Louise Lake trails can make for a satisfying weekend trifecta.
Rocky Mountain Front: The quintessential backcountry ride of Green Gulch to Rierdon Gulch, located 25 miles west of Choteau is one of the best loops in the state. Ride it while you can, for its days are numbered. When the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act (RMFHA) receives the Congressional blessing, this area will become Wilderness and will be closed to bicycles. It's important to note that in the spirit of compromise, the bicycling community supports the RMFHA and this future closure.
Find out more at montanamountainbikealliance.com.