There are miles upon miles of public lands around Paradise Valley, stretching from the north of town all the way south past Yellowstone. The options for hiking are nearly limitless, so don't let decision fatigue keep you off the trails. When you're looking for a fun or challenging hike, here are five of our favorites.
This moderate out-and-back is 3.9 miles with 736 feet of elevation gain, or you can keep hiking up the saddle for a longer day with an even steeper leg burn if you want to scramble all the way to the summit. You'll want to time it with wildflower season to see the spectacular displays of blooms along the trail. And the vistas as you climb keep the inspiration flowing. Expect a rocky drive up to the trailhead, so a high-clearance vehicle is a good idea to set your adventure off on the right foot. As with any hike in our area, you'll want to bring bear spray and the ten essentials as you head out.
AllTrails also rates Pine Creek Falls as moderate, but this out-and-back is a bit shorter at 2.5 miles with 390 feet of elevation gain. This tends to be a busier trail, so it's a great choice for hikers who don't want to head quite so far out into the remote wilderness. The waterfalls don't disappoint, and the shady trail combined with evaporative cooling from the falls makes this a great choice on hot summer days. Just keep in mind that the trail may be a bit muddy in spots, even in midsummer.
Near Big Timber, see the 100-foot plunge of the Boulder River flowing into this fabulous cascade. You can also access the Green Mountain Trail, which has an accessible, paved surface to stroll while you peruse interpretive panels or stop for a picnic. This easy walk is less than a mile, with less than 70 feet of elevation gain.
This 5.4-mile, out-and-back trail features beautiful views and plenty of potential for spotting wildlife as you climb nearly 2,000 feet in elevation. The first mile and a half climbs steeply, but you'll enjoy gentle rolling hills after that as you follow the ridge. The road to the trailhead is bumpy in spots but is usually two-wheel drive accessible. Walk as far as you like, knowing that you have views and the downhill to look forward to on the way back to the car.
This 11-mile loop trail is the perfect option for some quiet time in nature, since it's relatively lightly trafficked. The trail circuits through the southern section of Custer Gallatin National Forest, giving views of all the surrounding mountain ranges. It gains a total of 2,100 feet in elevation as it makes its way through the forest. The road to the trailhead can be rough, and it remains closed to vehicles until mid-June. But even a walk along the gated road can be a relaxing way to experience nature.
For more inspiration, as you plan your trip to Montana, visit the rest of our blog here.