Pack Light

A beginner-friendly bikepack.

Fall is a great time for mountain biking in the Bozeman area; riders are in shape, temperatures are milder, and the trails are dry. These conditions are ideal for a quick bikepacking trip on local trails. The definition of bikepacking is self-evident: the solitude and exploration of backpacking combined with the thrill and speed of mountain biking. Here’s a beginner-friendly route to get the gears turning.

Day 1: Sourdough to Mystic Lake via Bozeman Creek
Distance: 10.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft.
Ride Time: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate 

Day 2: Mystic Lake to Sourdough via Moser Creek
Distance: 22 miles
Ride Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate with a long climb

Day 1
Most Bozemanites have ridden the Sourdough trail system. If you’re new to the area or haven’t had a chance to check them out, these trails are close to town with long, non-technical rides, making this a great area to experiment with packing weight on your bike. Sourdough Trail (aka, Bozeman Creek) is your typical old Forest Service road with a gradual 1,500-foot climb up to the scenic Mystic Lake. At 4.6 miles from the trailhead, cross the bridge and reach a fork. Take note of this fork; you will take a right here for Moser Creek on day two. Take a left for a moderate climb for 5.2 miles to camp at the lake. At Mystic Lake, take a left to cross the creek below the old dam. After crossing, skirt the margins of the lake and make camp; there are a few established sites there. 

Day 2
In the morning, hop on your rig and take your choice of the more technical singletrack Mystic Lake section or the easy ride back the way you came, to the fork in the road by the bridge. (The mileage listed here is based on the easy way.) After the descent, take the turn and enjoy a long climb on easy doubletrack; you are now traversing the ridge dividing the Hyalite and Sourdough drainages. After the fork, stay on the obvious trail for about 4.5 miles, ignoring the spurs. Pass through a gate and ride down Moser Creek to Hyalite Canyon Rd. After relaxing by the creek, loop back to the car via 19th Ave. and Nash Rd.

Head south from town on Church Ave., which becomes Sourdough Rd. Continue on Sourdough Rd. for 3.6 miles, then turn right on Nash Rd. Take a left at the first turn for Sourdough Canyon Rd. The Sourdough trailhead is at the end of the road. 

Route Options
Keep in mind there are many other trails and routes in this section of Hyalite. Refer to Beartooth Publishing's Bozeman Area map for other options. 

Don’t forget the bear spray. Moose and bears are common in both drainages, and the latter are especially active in the fall. Remember: it's hunting season, stay aware and wear bright colors.