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On the Trail: Crail Ranch Trail

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The Crail Ranch Trail’s newest feature is a native plant garden that features 700 different species. PHOTO BY SARA MARINO


The Crail Ranch Trail is a 2.6-mile roundtrip, leisurely path that traces the historic Crail Ranch Meadow, named after Big Sky’s original settlers. The flat, gravel surface is welcoming to any ability or type of trail user. You can access the trail by parking either at the Big Sky Community Park off Little Coyote Road, or at the Crail Ranch Homestead Museum on Spotted Elk Road.

Be sure to leave time for a side trip to the museum. Guided tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 3 p.m. through September. The grounds are open every day during daylight hours for self-guided walking tours and picnicking.

The newest feature, the Crail Ranch Native Demonstration Garden, is now in full bloom. Big Sky’s first garden project has emerged through collaborative efforts among the Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance, Gallatin River Task Force, Big Sky Water and Sewer District, the Historic Crail Ranch Homestead Museum and Big Sky Community Organization.

The garden is an outdoor classroom that showcases more than 700 native, wildlife-friendly and water-wise plants. The outdoor classroom will be used as an instructional tool for residents, visitors and students and will help our community understand that beautifully landscaped gardens can be sustained in a water-challenged environment. Water meters have been installed to track how native plants save water over time. There are also community vegetable garden beds that can be reserved for use by contacting Kimberly at

Hop on the Crail Ranch Trail and take a trip back in time and try to imagine what Big Sky was like those many years ago, while enjoying efforts made to keep it sustainable for the future.

For more information about Big Sky’s parks, trails and recreation programs, visit The Big Sky Community Organization engages and leads people to recreational and enrichment opportunities through thoughtful development of partnerships, programs and places.

Sara Marino is the community development manager for the Big Sky Community Organization.

Trail Stats

Distance: 2.6 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: easy
Elevation: 6,285 feet
Surface: gravel
Uses: walk, run and bike
Directions: From Meadow Village, head north on Little Coyote Road. Travel past the Big Sky Chapel and turn onto the first road on your right. Look for the Big Sky Community Park entrance sign and turn right. The trailhead is immediately on the left-hand side and there’s parking near the softball fields.

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