Training Camp

Sticking to your routine.

So this is the summer you decided to tackle the Ridge Run or some other high-altitude sufferfest, which means a strict training schedule is in order. But it’s also summer, and camping out is a non-negotiable part of your outdoor agenda, too. Have no fear: you needn’t sacrifice fun for training. Here are some campgrounds with access to excellent trail runs, helping keep you in shape and on schedule. Bonus: a pre-breakfast run means nary a shred of guilt when scarfing down cheesy camp eggs and a mound of bacon.

Fairy Lake
The Ridge Run starts at Fairy Lake, so what better location to train from? Even if you aren’t participating in the 20-mile epic, the trails snaking out from the lake’s forest-service campground offer something for every runner, regardless of experience or fitness. For the dirt-road jogger, a nice loop combines the Fairy Creek trail with Fairy Lake Rd. Start from the lake and work your way down to the lower parking area, before climbing the three miles back to camp. If you prefer singletrack and less motorized traffic, hike up to the saddle below Sacajawea, before running along the Bridger Foothills trail for as long as you’d like—it’s just over five miles to Ross Pass, making an out-and-back about ten miles. 

Hyalite Reservoir
Every spring, we all say we’re going to camp up at the reservoir. Come summer, crowds and wanderlust send us further afield. This year, stick to your guns and pick a mid-week night to spend around the lake. There are two designated campgrounds, two forest-service cabins, and endless other dispersed options. For trails, you’ll have your pick from long-distance singletrack in the high alpine, to shaded mid-range jaunts like the trail up to Emerald Lake. Bring a map and get to runnin’.

Tobacco Roots
If you’re looking to get a little further out of town, but don’t want to spend all weekend in the car, the Tobacco Roots are closer than you think, and the trail options are many. Set up camp at the Potosi campground and go from there. Most options will be of the mixed-surface variety, but with a tent site along South Willow Creek and far fewer folks than close to Bozeman, it’s worth sacrificing pure singletrack. Directly across the dirt road from the eastern-most entrance to the campground is a grueling hill climb which switchbacks up a juniper-covered hillside before topping out in a sagebrush meadow. When you reach the meadow, ribbons of dirt extend like a web in several directions. Take your pick.