Where to ride this fall.
Fall's one of the best times to mountain bike in Montana—the weather's cool and the trails are all but empty. Here are a few to try before the snow flies.
Just east of Big Sky, this big drainage offers several loop options. Grizzly loop is an hour-and-a-half teaser, or go big with a 17-mile counter clockwise loop from Buffalo Horn to Porcupine. Plan for a scenic six-hour cruise.
This scenic point-to-point (or looped on the road) is up Bridger Canyon. Park at Brackett Creek and ride 22 miles to Stone Creek. An out and back from Stone Creek is one of the best single-track quick fixes from Bozeman.
Park at the trailhead just off the I-90 Homestake Pass exit, then ride south on the Continental Divide Trail that leaves the parking lot. Options include an out and back to Pipestone Pass or the Beaver Pond loop. Plan for three to four hours.
Mile Creek to Sheep Lake
This loop is a big epic in the Henry Mountains just northeast of Raynolds Pass. Mile Creek itself is one of the best out-and-back singletracks in the region, climbing 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 38-mile monster loop.
Hyalite to Storm Castle
A beautiful car-shuttled ride or a great out and back to the Hyalite / Storm Castle divide. Start at Hyalite Creek trailhead and ride up and over to a car dropped at the Gallatin River.
Curly Lake Loop
A late-summer or early-fall 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 adventure.