Family time outside.
Montanans know how to make the most of our short but amazing summers, and we like to take our families along for the ride. Whether you do it yourself or go with an expert, you’ll find enough trails and waterways to keep everyone active all summer long. Here’s a sampling of some of the outdoor opportunities awaiting you and your clan this season.
On your own: Bozeman is rife with bike trails, which make riding in a (mostly) car-free zone a breeze. From the “M” trail to the western edge of town and Snowfill Recreation Area to Sourdough Canyon, the Main Street to the Mountains trail system provides many options. Along the way, you can stop and dip your toes in a creek, play at a park, or scramble up one of the many climbing boulders that dot the trails. Handy maps can be had for $2 at the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) office and at local retailers. Take it up a notch and check your balance at the Bicycle Pump Track at the Regional Park. Little kids love riding the dips and bumps on the dirt track.
With an expert: Your local shop, Summit Bike and Ski, located right off Main Street, is celebrating 31 years of bicycle repair and general haphazardness. With a broad assortment of bikes and equipment, you are sure to find something you like, even if it's just the company. Stop by for a bit, stay for a while—all bikes and people are welcome. Don't forget to bring a 5-pack.
On your own: Hiking is one of the easiest things for families to do outside because you need almost no equipment. It would be a shame not to explore the wildflowers, creeks, and mountains that surround town. Bozeman Creek is a mellow place to start, and Drinking Horse Mountain’s steep grade offers a sense of accomplishment for young tikes. Visit outsidebozeman.com/trails for more suggestions than you can shake a walking stick at.
With an expert: Crazy Mountain Outdoors is a great one-stop-shop for all your outdoor gear needs. Try something from their selection of Patagonia like the quandary pants or the cap cool daily shirt. Looking something for your feet? The Altra Lone Peak 5s are fast and light with great support.
On your own: When you’re ready to take your hiking a little farther down the trail, it’s time to strap on the big pack and spend a night outside. Flat-ish trails like the Yellowstone River Trail in Yellowstone make for a nice introduction. You get maximum scenery for minimal work, and there’s time to sit by the river at the end of the day and soak it all in. Emerald Lake in Hyalite is another hike ideal for little ones. At only four miles, even kids can handle the uphill, and everyone loves a mountain lake.
With an expert: Again, Crazy Mountain Outdoors has you covered when you want to step up your hiking and spend a night or two under the stars. Pick through a full assortment of Osprey packs, from everything for simple day outings to multiple night excursions. Peruse other camp essentials from Big Agnes and NEMO such as tents, sleeping bags, pads, chairs, and tables.
On your own: Start out with something chill, like the Madison River. It’s so shallow that you could get out and pull your raft or canoe Lewis and Clark style, if you wanted to. It’s so scenic that you won’t mind just drifting along. Black’s Ford to Greycliff is just over four miles and great for an after-work float or a quick run on the weekend.
With an expert: Paradise Adventure Company is a great way to see all the water Montana has to offer. Experienced guides will show you through Paradise Valley on the fabled Yellowstone River. Choose from a variety of options ranging from an 18-mile whitewater adventure to a deluxe "saddle & paddle trip."