Ski Tour: Goose Creek Meadow
Approach Distance: 1.5 miles
Approach Gain: 1,200 feet
Skiable Vertical: 500 feet
Duration: 1 to 3 hours
Distance from Bozeman: 25 minutes
Avalanche Hazard*: Low
One of the closest ski tours to Bozeman, Goose Creek is a popular outing for folks trying to make some turns without burning too much time. The approach is easy and short, and the meadow is wide enough to spread out the tracks, so you might find fresh snow here for a couple days after a dump. Once you reach the meadow, you'll have excellent views of the western Beartooths across Paradise Valley, and you'll get a peek at the northern Gallatins from the very top. There's no real avalanche terrain to worry about, so it's also a great place for beginners to learn the process. It's worth pointing out that the parking area here is quite small, and on a weekend after some fresh snowfall, you might not be able to find a spot. DON'T park on the road; it's too narrow. Have a Plan B.
Head east on I-90 and exit on Trail Creek Rd. Turn right off the exit and follow Trail Creek Rd. for three miles, then turn right onto Goose Creek Rd. Drive up Goose Creek Rd. for two miles and park in the pullout on the left just before the gate.
There should be a prominent skintrack to follow. Head past the gate and up the road for a few hundred yards before breaking off left through a cut in the timber. You'll cross the zig-zagging logging road a few times as you slowly gain elevation towards the meadow (A). Once you reach the meadow, simply skin to the top.
Sniff out the fresh snow and point 'em downhill for some low-angle wiggling (B). The farther you go to the skier's right, the fewer tracks you'll encounter, but the run does get shorter and you'll need to traverse hard left to get back out. Spin a couple laps, if you've got the time. If you're looking to gain some more elevation, you can skin up the ridge towards the top of Chestnut Mountain. Don't expect the snow to be any good on the ridge coming down, but it's a nice, scenic ride, anyway.
*Avalanche hazard refers to terrain risk only. Always travel with a partner and rescue gear, evaluate conditions carefully, and check the forecast before heading out.