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On the Trail: Ousel Falls in the winter

Carie Birkmeier

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By Ciara Wolfe BSCO Executive Director

As iconic as Lone Peak itself, Ousel Falls trail and open space park is a favorite for both locals and visitors from around the world in every season. This trail is an excellent way to spend some time outdoors during a beautiful spring day in Big Sky.

The trail sees a lot of traffic during all months of the year, and the trailhead parking lot is plowed making it easily accessible in the winter.

The 1.6-mile hike or snowshoe crosses through a ravine and over the Southfork of the Westfork of the Gallatin River via two picturesque bridges. The trail meanders through the woods along the river with a short climb up to a vista that overlooks a 100-foot waterfall. This sight is worthwhile any time of year.

The falls are particularly impressive during the winter when they are frozen and surrounded by a snow-covered landscape. At times, hikers can watch ice climbers on the falls from the vista overlook.

During the winter months the trail is snow packed and can be slick, so shoes with traction devices like Yaktrax are recommended.

Grab your camera, a water bottle and your studded shoes and head out for a hike that will fill you with an even greater appreciation for nature and for Big Sky.

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.

Trail Stats

Distance Roundtrip: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: easy
Elevation: 6,540 feet
Surface: gravel, snow-packed in the winter
Uses: hiking, snowshoeing, dogs leashed
Directions: The trailhead parking lot is plowed throughout the winter and is located 2 miles south of Lone Mountain Trail off of Ousel Falls Road.

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