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easy day hikes

Easy Montana day hike adventures

Rachel Crisp Philips Montana 55

When it comes to exploring Montana’s great outdoors, the Big Sky has no limits to accessible adventures for folks of all backgrounds and skill levels. From novice to expert, flabby to fit, young to old, Montana’s wide expanse of public lands and beautiful vistas offer numerous opportunities for all-ages recreation across the state.

While there’s no need to allow age to impede upon enjoyment, consider consulting with a primary care physician before heading out in order to evaluate the risk of accidents. Keep in mind that though some trails may not be very long in mileage, they may gain elevation rapidly which can exacerbate health issues such as asthma, cardiac issues, or orthopedic function. Whether hiking solo, sauntering along with friends, or with toddling grandchildren in tow, these trails are just a few of Montana’s many great options for easy excursions.

HYALITE LAKE 20 miles south of Bozeman:

This handicap-accessible trail is an easy way to scope some unique scenery as it parallels Hyalite Creek, passing alongside an array of waterfalls as it heads upstream. The first waterfall, simply named Grotto, is only 1.5 miles round-trip from the trailhead. For more adventurous hikers, the course continues for 5.5 miles to a peak with astounding views of the surrounding Paradise and Gallatin valleys. Other nearby options for a jaunt are just down the road. Follow the signs to either Palisade Falls for a short stroll or back to Hyalite Reservoir for a refreshing soak or to relax while fishing.

JEWEL BASIN HIKING AREA 15 miles northeast of Bigfork:

There are several options for trails in this hiking-only area that spans 15,000 acres of the Swan Mountains. One of the shorter hikes is only about a mile long with minimal elevation gain, and boasts views that look down to the Flathead Valley. Similar to many of these easier trails, most of the elevation gain happens during the drive up to the trailhead, providing great views from any angle along the way.

LOST CREEK STATE PARK 11 miles northwest of Anaconda:

From the main parking area, it’s only a half-mile stroll along a short, paved trail to get a good view that overlooks Lost Creek Falls. The stunning sight that awaits features water that falls 50 spectacular feet upon the bedrock below. In its entirety, Lost Creek State Park boasts 502-acres of forests, meadows and cliffs with camping available for longerterm guests. Many types of wildlife call this place home year-round, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, golden eagles and other large birds of prey.

ROSS CREEK CEDARS SCENIC AREA South of Troy:

Thick canopies of western red cedar trees tower above the trails in this protected, 100-acre rainforest area located in northwest Montana. Most of these ancient giants are over 500 years old and offer a rare glimpse into the primeval paradise that once dominated the region. An accessible nature trail loops from the parking lot through part of the grove, packing a whole lot of flora and fauna into less than a mile. For a longer, but still family-friendly venture, the nearby Ross Creek Trail 142 is a suitable day hike.

SOUTH FORK SUN RIVER 30 miles west of Augusta:

Although this trail serves as a popular entry point for skilled hikers heading out to the Scapegoat and Bob Marshall Wilderness areas, it can also be a short saunter with gorgeous vistas. This super scenic path follows the river downstream for prime picnicking by the riverside, or for a longer excursion to the landmark Chinese Wall. Superclear water, even when deep, is only one of the many stand-out aspects of this river. MT55

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