Take a break at a lake
When you choose to live in Bozeman, you give yourself the chance to explore Montana’s spectacular backcountry. Take a break from the grind and visit one of the following alpine lakes for quiet solitude and great fishing.
Drive to Hyalite Reservoir and continue on past the lake to the Grotto Falls trailhead. The five-mile hike to Hyalite Lake passes many beautiful mountain waterfalls including, Grotto, Arch, Champagne, Shower, and Alpine. Take note of other waterfalls high up on the canyon walls as you move up the trail—people from all over the world travel to this canyon in the winter to ice climb the frozen falls. After climbing 2,000 feet, you’ll reach a breathtaking mountain meadow that is home to Hyalite Lake. From this crystal-clear lake you can view a massive north-face wall on the ridge between Overlook Peak and Hyalite Peak.
Heather and Emerald Lakes
Once again drive to Hyalite Reservoir and head towards the far side. Just past the Chisholm Campground, turn left toward Palisade Falls. At the end of this road is the trailhead. This four-mile hike climbs 1,850 feet and takes you first to Emerald Lake and in another half mile, Heather Lake. These picturesque lakes sit in spectacular meadows and are surrounded by the towering cliffs of Overlook Peak and Mount Chisholm. Both lakes hold plenty of fish; Heather has cutthroat trout while Emerald is stocked with Arctic grayling.
Pine Creek Lake
Pine Creek Lake is tucked high in the Absaroka Mountains south of Livingston. To get to the trailhead, drive a few miles south of Livingston and turn left at the sign for Carter’s Bridge and East River Road. Follow the old highway for eight miles past the small town of Pine Creek. Turn left at the Pine Creek campground sign and follow it about three miles to the trailhead. A strenuous five-mile hike with an elevation gain of 3,500 feet leads you to the deep, emerald-green waters of Pine Creek Lake. You’ll pass a series of dramatic waterfalls, including Pine Creek Falls just one mile from trailhead. The lake has large, football-shaped cutthroats and sits just north of Black Mountain, a towering 10,941-foot peak.
Unlike the other lakes, Fairy Lake is one you can actually drive to. Take Bridger Canyon Road (Hwy. 86) northeast like you’re heading to Bridger Bowl. About six miles past the ski hill, turn left at Fairy Lake Rd and continue five miles to the Fairy Lake campground. A quarter-mile walk and you’re on the shore. This oval-shaped, aqua-blue lake is encircled by pine trees and sits below the soaring cliffs of Sacagawea Peak. The campground has picnic tables, fire rings, handicapped-accessible bathrooms, drinking water, and fishing access.