Must-Do Hikes in Montana from National Parks to Waterfall Trails and More
Montana is know for some truly magnificent hiking trails. There are hundreds of places to hit the trail and enjoy some gorgeous Montana views. We’ve narrowed it down to some of the best hikes in Montana in this article. If you’re not sure where to go hiking in Montana, start here for some inspiration.
This best Montana hiking list includes hikes that are in easy driving distance from Montana cities and towns as well as some in Glacier National Park, which is one of the most popular places in Montana for outdoor recreation.
Highline Trail Loop, Glacier National Park
The Highline Trail Loop is located at Glacier National Park, which is known for some pretty incredible hikes. Of all of Glacier’s epic hikes, the Highline Trail is one of the most popular.
You begin the hike at Logan Pass, one of the highest points in the park you can reach by car, and the highest point along Glacier National Park’s famed Going-to-the-Sun Road drive.
The Highline Trail Loop is close to 12 miles long. You’ll see stunning mountain scapes and walk around a pretty steep ledge for part of the hike, which mountain goats are known to frequent.
This is a moderate hike, but due to the narrow ledge at certain points, it may not be be a good Montana hike for families with young children.
Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park
Another amazing trail at Glacier National Park is the Grinnell Glacier Trail. (After all, how can a national park not have some of the best hikes in Montana?!)
This hike is on the longer side, at a little over 10 miles, but it is incredibly worth it. Apart from the three glaciers, you’ll also experience an alpine meadow, cliffs, lakes, waterfalls, ledges, slopes, and plenty more beautiful nature. The glaciers along this hike are the Grinnell Glacier, Salamander Glacier, and the Gem Glacier.
This Montana hike is probably not for you if you are just a beginner. There are pretty steep slopes and a few thin ledges toward the end of the trail that are not for the faint of heart.
Ousel Falls Park Trail, Big Sky
This hike is not even a mile long but is definitely one of the best hikes in Montana. The Ousel Falls Park Trail is very easy and takes you to a beautiful waterfall.
There are three bridges along the way to the falls, and there are four different routes to see the waterfall from various viewpoints.
With a location close to Big Sky Resort and and an easy drive from Bozeman, Ousel Falls tends to be a very popular hike in Montana. If you want to avoid a lot of other people on the trail, try to go mid-week or right after dawn.
Sweet Grass Creek Trail, Crazy Mountains
If you want to see an incredible view of the Crazy Mountains, go on the Sweet Grass Creek Trail near Big Timber, MT. Here you will get to see the Crazy Mountain Range as you hike around 13 miles. This hike is rocky and can get wet sometimes, so it is more of a moderate level.
You’ll be able to see the stunning Campfire Lake along this trail. Many hikers have seen eagles and mountain goats along the trail too.
Lava Lake Trail aka Cascade Creek Trail
The Cascade Creek Trail, also known as the Lava Lake Trail, is another popular hike in Montana. This is not too difficult of a hike, so most levels of hikers should be able to complete it — which is worth it to see the amazing Lava Lake.
This hike is around 6 miles long and is rocky in some places. There is one log bridge over the creek, but other than that is a nice enjoyable hike.
Ice Caves Trail, Big Snowy Mountains
Another one of the best hikes in Montana is the Ice Caves Trail along the Snowy Crest. The trailhead is a short drive north of Lewistown. This is a very challenging hike that is worth the effort due to its incredible cave scenery. When you reach the top, you will have a great view of Crystal Lake. If you do the full loop hike, it is close to 12 miles.
Along the 5-mile hike you will see mountain scenery and underground cave wonders. On clear days, you can see tons of mountain ranges all over Montana. The highlight of the hike is arriving to Ice Cave, a large room filled with ice stalactites and sheets. Ice can be seen in this cave year-round.
It is best to do this hike during the summer. During the winter, it often gets so much snow that it is not a safe hike to do.
Holland Falls National Recreation Trail
Holland Falls National Recreation Trail is a fairly easy hike to enjoy. It is around 3.3 miles round-trip and follows Holland Lake until you reach the falls. Located on the southern end of Flathead National Forest, it’s a good day trip from either Flathead Lake or Missoula.
Hiking along the banks of this beautiful stretch of water makes this a perfect day spent in nature for lake lovers. While it’s lovely in summer, many people enjoy doing this hike during the winter season, too.
Beehive Basin Trail, Big Sky
Big Sky is known for its incredible hikes, and the Beehive Basin Trail is one of them. It is a moderate to difficult hike and is around 6.6 miles long round-trip. There are switchbacks and some pretty steep sections of the trail, so take your time and prepare for some stops along the way.
Throughout this hike, you will see breathtaking views that make the challenge worth it. You’ll see Big Sky Resort’s famous Lone Peak, Big Sky Valley, and a stunning lake with clear, gorgeous water.
Avalanche Lake Trail, Glacier National Park
Back to Glacier! Another great hike in Glacier National Park is the easy-to-get-to Avalanche Lake Trail. Its trailhead is next to a large parking lot a short drive from Lake McDonald Lodge. The shorter and accessible hike, Trail of the Cedars is the first short trail you need to take to connect with the Avalanche Lake Trail and it’s also one of the best easy hikes in Montana.
At 4.5 miles long, the Avalance Lake Trail is considered a moderate hike and ends at the gorgeous Avalanche Lake.
Some parts of the hike are steeper than others, but it isn’t too challenging for the majority of the trail. We’ve even done this hike when we visited Glacier National Park with toddlers!
When you reach Avalanche Lake, you will find a large area with benches that make a great picnic location or snack break before heading back down the there-and-back trail.
Palisade Falls, Bozeman
If you are looking for an easy hike in Montana, be sure to go to Palisade Falls near Bozeman. It is only a little bit over a mile long and is mostly paved. There are a few short, steeper sections, but they are not too bad to navigate if you go slow and take your time.
You can go during the summer and enjoy the mist from the waterfall or experience the mesmerizingly icy falls in the winter. This is another very popular hike, so prepare for crowds, especially if hiking it on the weekends or during summer.
Hidden Lake Trail, Glacier National Park
The Hidden Lake Trail at the Glacier National Park is around 5.5 miles long and goes through the alpine meadows, often referred to as the Hanging Gardens. The beginning of the hike is paved, while the rest is a boardwalk.
A mile into the hike, you will get to the Hidden Lake Overlook, a very popular place at this national park. You will see a gorgeous view of the mountains and lake. After this overlook, you start to make your way down to the lake, which does get steep. There is a small area at the lake for picnics and exploring.
Whether you choose to do most of your hiking adventures in Montana near big cities or in national parks, these best hikes in Montana will provide you with gorgeous views and fresh nature air.