Ciara Wolfe BSCO Executive Director
Spending time on Big Sky’s trails during the spring can be tricky to plan for due to how quickly the weather changes. With recent wind and high temperatures, Big Sky’s snow is quickly dissipating. However, it’s likely that snow will be back at some point this spring, so flexibility in your outdoor plans is key. I’ve learned to take advantage of whatever conditions Mother Nature provides to ensure that nothing deters me from spending time on the trail.
Gallatin Canyon Trail is one of the first trails that clears of snow each spring due to the heat transfer from the dark asphalt surface and its east-facing orientation, which allows it to soak in the sun’s rays for much of the day. This 8-foot-wide asphalt trail follows Highway 191 on the opposite side of Gallatin River for 2.5 miles. The trail’s flat nature, non-muddy asphalt surface and moderate distance make it the perfect path to dust off your muddy running shoes or bike and transition to your favorite summertime trail activities.
As soon as the snow melts, this trail quickly becomes a favorite route for children biking to school as well as runners, dog-walkers and strollers out to enjoy some fresh air. Although the trail follows Highway 191, a major transportation route, it also provides excellent scenery of the Gallatin River and adjacent meadows. Plus, trail users are often treated to elk sightings since this is a favorite hangout of the large ungulates and their calves this time of year.
You can also connect Gallatin Canyon Trail to the northern terminus of Lone Peak Trail, which links Big Sky’s meadow area to Gallatin Canyon for an additional 3 miles of cycling, running or walking. At Gallatin Canyon Trail’s south end, you can walk down to the Porcupine Trailhead on the Custer Gallatin National Forest and explore further hiking and biking options from there.
Every trail has a season when it’s perfectly primed for recreation, and this is a great time of year to enjoy the Gallatin Canyon Trail.
Distance: 2.5 miles one way
Elevation gain: none
Uses: walk, run and bike
Directions: You can start at either end of the trail. The northern ends starts at the intersection of Lone Mountain Trail and Highway 191 and parking is available at the Conoco lot. The southern terminus is located at Ophir Elementary School located off Highway 191.
For more information about Big Sky’s parks, trails and recreation programs, visit bscomt.org. The Big Sky Community Organization is a local nonprofit that connects people to recreational opportunities by acquiring, promoting and preserving sustainable places and programs for all.