Length: 7.5 miles (round-trip)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation Gain: 800 feet
Activities: Hiking, trail running, camping
Crowds: Moderate traffic
Pioneer Falls is the most popular destination along South Fork Trail that parallels the South Fork of Spanish Creek. The trailhead, at Spanish Creek Campground, leads over a bridge to a relatively flat trail that heads through Gallatin National Forest and into Lee Metcalf Wilderness. At 3 miles, you'll hit a fork; proceed right at the posted junction toward Falls Creek Trail. Here, you'll begin the short 450-foot ascent to the edge of the falls. Enjoy views of the 40-foot cascading waterfall.
To continue your hike, continue on Falls Creek Trail to Jerome Rock Lakes. If you veer right at the posted junction and continue along Spanish Creek, the trail leads to Summit Lake, North Fork Trail, and eventually Big Sky.
This trailhead is closed from late fall through mid-May; make sure the trail is open before heading out.
From downtown Bozeman, head west on Huffine Ln. toward Four Corners. From there, take a left onto Hwy. 191 toward Big Sky and drive 13 miles. Turn right at Spanish Creek Rd., and continue for 9 miles to the trailhead and campground.
Map courtesy of Robert Stone's Day Hikes Around Bozeman, Montana.