By Ciara Wolfe BSCO Executive Director
Hiking with my children is one of my favorite ways to spend time with them during the summer months. They began in a front-carry pack as infants, graduated to a backpack as toddlers, and now my oldest, who is 12, will soon surpass me in speed.
Taking that time together in the outdoors has fostered many incredible conversations, teaching moments, and confidence-building experiences for both of my children. Here I’ll share my five favorite trails in Big Sky to hike with kids. They’re listed in no specific order.
Little Willow Way
This is an easy, 1.6-mile roundtrip trail. It’s wide and gravel-surfaced, best for wading in the adjacent river, beginner hikes and a short walk in nature.
The 3-mile, dirt-surfaced intermediate level Hummocks Trail is a popular hike in Big Sky. It provides excellent vistas, views of wildflowers, and the chance to loop back early if your hike isn’t going as planned.
South Fork Loop
This intermediate dirt-surfaced loop is 1 mile in length. It’s an excellent short hike right here in town, and has both an uphill and downhill section, providing training for the longer hikes to come.
Upper Beehive Basin
As a 6.3-mile roundtrip journey, Upper Beehive Basin is an intermediate level hike along a dirt-surfaced trail. With a gradual climb and the destination of a glacial lake surrounded by the jagged Spanish Peaks Mountains, this trail makes for the ultimate first-time long hike for almost any age. It will help to foster a love of nature, and you’ll probably spot wildlife along the way.
Storm Castle Peak
It’s 4.7 miles out-and-back to the summit of Storm Castle Peak, the most prominent rock outcrop in Gallatin Canyon. With a steep incline where you can see your end goal throughout much of the hike, this trail is an excellent goal for budding mountain climbers and intermediate-level hikers. It can serve as a self-confidence boost as your kids become king or queen of the mountain and look out across the Gallatin Canyon.
I encourage you to get out on the trail no matter what age hikers you are guiding. Just remember to bring lots of snacks and extra water. My secret hacks to help the kids have fun on the trail include designating a special adventure pack that they get to carry when they hike—starting as young as possible—as well as distractions like “I Spy,” trail treats, and nature scavenger hunts while we walk.
Visit bscomt.org for more information about Big Sky’s parks, trails and recreation programs. The Big Sky Community Organization is a local nonprofit that connects people to recreational opportunities by acquiring, promoting and preserving sustainable places and prog