By Ciara Wolfe BSCO Executive Director
Ulery’s Lake Loop is a true Big Sky experience. From expansive views to crossing ski bridges and reading interpretive signs, this trail has it all. The trail is a 3.9-mile natural surface, intermediate-level loop with both uphill and downhill travel that winds around Ulery’s Lake. Start your trip at the trailhead located on the west side of the Moonlight Lodge parking lot. The trail is marked with a large map kiosk and signs for various trails and their distances.
Moonlight Basin is unique in our area, as it is the only private club that allows public access to trails on their private property. The Big Sky community is grateful for this as it adds additional mileage to the Big Sky Resort trail system that links to our community trail system.
You can hike or bike the loop in either direction, but I prefer to start to the right and immediately cross an 800-foot skier bridge. You then cross another skier bridge and two dirt roads as the trail meanders through Moonlight Basin residences. The trail ultimately leads downhill to the shore of Ulery’s Lake. At the lake there are some private club amenities you will see, including a dock, warming yurt and extensive tree fort. Continue your hike around the lake and begin the climb back up the trail. You will cross back over the dirt road which then zig zags through the forest and a handful of ski runs.
As you make your way back to the trailhead, you’ll notice a bench with views of Wilson Peak. Make sure to check out the interpretative signs along the route with information on area wildlife, geology and wetlands. You’ll know you’re nearing the trailhead again once when the trail starts weaving through private residences. The entire trail is marked with blue flagging on trees and there are signs posted at all intersections and road crossings.
Enjoy this beautiful hike with some of the best views of Beehive Basin and the Spanish Peaks that you can find in Big Sky. Please note that Moonlight Basin is growing and some portions of the trail may be closed certain times of the year due to construction. Bear sightings are often reported in this area, so be bear aware when recreating on Ulery’s Lake Loop Trail. Stop by the Tavern, a restaurant located in Moonlight Lodge near the trailhead, for a snack or drink to complete your experience.
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.
Distance: 3.9-mile loop roundtrip
Elevation gain: 275 feet
Uses: hike, trail run, bike and snowshoe
Directions: Drive west toward Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin on Lone Mountain Trail. Continue 1 mile past Big Sky Resort until you come to the entrance gate to Moonlight Basin. Pass through the gate and head straight through a roundabout following signs to Moonlight Lodge. After driving past several private residences, the road winds up at the lodge. Once you enter the Moonlight Lodge parking lot, park on your right along the tree line near the trailhead.