Mountain biking Stone Creek.
In the scenic Bangtail Range north of Bozeman lies the Stone Creek trail—an unbeatable out-and-back that tests riders’ endurance and switchback skills, both on the ascent and descent. The climb to the top gains about 2,000 feet over five miles, creating a 1.5 to 2.5-hour round trip. Stone Creek dries out earlier than the Bangtail’s popular Grassy Mountain trail, making it an appealing early-summer ride. Tip: keep your eyes focused on the inside of each switchback turn to angle appropriately and maintain balance.
The trailhead is located 1.5 miles up Stone Creek Road. Turn right off Bridger Canyon Drive (Hwy. 86) just after mile marker 12. The first 1.5 miles of the trail climb more than 17 switchbacks before leveling out—start out in your granny gear and be ready to grind before coming to the first prominent resting spot near an old logging road. Continue along the singletrack—the switchbacks get progressively easier and the runouts get longer as you ascend. After the trail crosses another old logging road, it enters a small meadow with a view of the creek. The trail then dives back into the woods and gradually eases up. Continue above the creek and through a series of forested ridges and meadows until the uphill journey resumes. Ascend the final switchbacks above treeline and ride a little further along the top of the ridge. Here, you’ll find a scenic place to stop and let your lungs catch up with you. Have a snack and rehydrate while taking in the incredible views of the Bridger and Crazy mountains.
From this highpoint, follow the southeast fence line to link up with the Bangtail Divide Trail, on which you can continue to Olsen Creek or Grassy Mountain, another 14 miles distant. Bring an extra lung in case you lose one on a switchback. To return home, simply go back the way you came.
Things to Consider
Be alert during the descent—the switchbacks can sneak up on you. This trail also sees heavy use by a variety of users; yield to hikers and uphill riders and postpone your ride if it’s muddy.