Big Sky, Bigger Views
Big Sky, Montana, is an oasis in one of the wildest alpine landscapes on Earth. First-time visitors are often awe-struck without even leaving the comfort of their car or hotel, but the area’s beauty is only fully realized by those who actually immerse themselves in it. There are dozens of great trails to explore in the area, but you’ve got to start somewhere:
Ousel Falls: Quick and Cool
Convenience, beauty and access make Ousel Falls one of the most popular hiking destinations in Big Sky. From the trailhead, located just minutes from the Town Center, this maintained gravel trail meanders along the South Fork of the Gallatin River as it leads hikers upstream, toward an impressive waterfall. Along the route, hikers encounter wildflowers, views of the South Fork Ravine and occasional wildlife like moose, elk, deer and bears. With its moderate pitch and many convenient resting points, Ousel Falls trail is an ideal half-day activity for individuals and families alike, looking for a quiet, natural getaway.
Distance: 1.6 miles, out-and-back.
Activities: Hiking, Wildflower viewing, Fishing, Picnics
Beehive Basin: Gateway to High Alpine Beauty
With its trailhead perched just shy of 8,000’ in elevation, the Beehive Basin trail serves as an incredible access point to alpine vistas. On this route, hikers travel through vast fields of wildflowers and ancient white-bark pine forests as they make their way toward the basin. The moderately pitched, well-marked single track trail culminates at a stunning high-alpine lake that’s surrounded by craggy rock buttresses and peaks that top out at well over 10,000’ in elevation. Tackling the whole trail is definitely an all-day affair, but checking out the first portion is also worthwhile if you’ve just got a few hours to burn.
Distance: 7 miles, out and back.
Activities: Hiking, Wildflower viewing, Wildlife viewing, Fishing, Vistas, Mountaineering
Uplands Trail: A Bird’s Eye of Big Sky
The Uplands Trail is one of the newer trails in Big Sky, and its proximity to town and panoramic views have quickly made it one of the most popular in the area. Don’t let this trail’s short overall length fool you. Its moderate-to-steep pitch will test your fitness as it switchbacks through scenic meadows toward a plateau where you’ll enjoy views of the town of Big Sky, Lone Mountain and the craggy peaks of the southern Madison Mountains. There isn’t a whole lot of shade on this hike, so make sure to pack plenty of water during the summer months.
Distance: 2.2 mile loop.
Activities: Hiking, Wildflower viewing, Wildlife viewing, Vistas