Length: 6 miles (round-trip)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Activities: Hiking, trail running, fishing, camping
Crowds: Moderate traffic
High up in the Gallatin Range lies a constellation of lakes, 5 of which hold golden and rainbow trout (or both.) The high-mountain air of a trail that begins above 8,000 feet makes this hike particularly enjoyable. The trail meanders through forests and meadows, crossing streams and gaining 1,200 feet of elevation to the upper and largest hidden lake. After jumping in one of the lakes, if you're feeling adventurous, climb to the top of the ridgeline for views of the lakes and the surrounding Gallatin and Madison Ranges. The road to the trailhead is rough but passable if driven slowly and in a vehicle with decent clearance. Carry bear spray and bug repellant.
This is a great trail on a hot day, with plenty of options for a dip. The area holds onto snow for a while, especially after wet winters; expect to find snowfields into July or later. The road is not plowed and is closed to cars in the winter, but is open to snowmobiles.
From Bozeman, take Hwy. 191 south through Gallatin Canyon. Take a left at Portal Creek Road, less than half a mile south of the bridge for Durnham Meadow, and drive about 4 miles up the drainage until you reach a fork in the road. Veer right and continue approximately 2 miles to the Hidden Lakes trailhead at the end of the road.
Map courtesy of Robert Stone's Day Hikes Around Bozeman, Montana.