When everything else is muddy.
While the hills of Bozeman are still mud-laden from snowmelt and spring moisture, Pipestone offers some of the best biking around. Lying beneath a rain shadow on the east side of the Continental Divide, Pipestone’s winding hills receive far less precipitation than the surrounding areas, creating a desert-like refuge for great spring riding. Trails start to open up around mid-March, and can dry up as early as late February during a mild winter.
To get there, take the Pipestone exit #241 and head north towards Delmoe Lake. The parking area is just past the railroad tracks on the right. The trails sprawl north and east from here, covering the majority of the area’s foothills in a spaghetti-like fashion. If you’re going to do some exploratory biking, the access road and train tracks provide great boundaries while the Jefferson Valley and Tobacco Root Mountains provide a decent sense of direction. Before you head off, it’s always a good idea to see how many motorbike users are there, as they—along with the cactus—can sometimes make for a bad ride. Give them the right of way to avoid confrontation.
Pipestone has two great early season rides to get those winter legs back in shape: an 11-miler with plenty of climbing and a five-mile half-loop that skips the climbing but still offers the same fun downhill section as the longer loop. Both begin with a continuous two-mile climb up the access road toward Delmoe Lake. This brings you to the Four Corners intersection, featuring bathrooms and parking for the motor enthusiasts. The longer loop continues along the access road for another mile and a half, where you take a right into the trees. The turn is marked by a small boulder at the bottom of a gully where a stream flows under the road. This trail will start climbing and head east, continuing until it finally ends in a flat section that joins an access road heading to the Four Corners intersection. This is where the longer loop meets back up with shorter loop for the fast downhill section.
The shorter loop takes a right at Four Corners, then another right just before the cattle guard leading to the downhill section. There are plenty of trails that intersect with the downhill part of the loop, but stay on the main trail and you’ll return to the parking area. If your quads have atrophied entirely over the long winter, it’s even possible to shuttle the two-mile downhill stretch.