Bridger Foothills Trail In Montana

Here is everything you need to know about the Bridger Foothills Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Montana
  • Length: 20.2 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Gallatin Valley Land Trust
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Bridger Foothills Trail, located in the Bridger Mountains of southwestern Montana, holds a rich historical significance that dates back centuries. The area has long been inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Crow, Shoshone, and Salish peoples, who utilized the mountains for hunting, gathering, and spiritual practices. These tribes recognized the Bridger Mountains as a sacred place, and their presence can be traced through archaeological sites and artifacts found in the region.

In the early 19th century, European explorers and fur trappers began to venture into the Bridger Mountains. Among them was Jim Bridger, a renowned mountain man and fur trader, who explored the area extensively in the 1820s. Bridger’s name became synonymous with the mountains, and his legacy is honored through the Bridger Mountain Range and the Bridger Bowl ski area.

As the region became more settled, the Bridger Foothills Trail emerged as a popular route for early settlers and miners. The trail provided access to the abundant natural resources of the mountains, including timber, minerals, and water. It also served as a transportation route for goods and supplies, connecting the growing communities in the valleys to the mountainous regions.

Over time, the Bridger Foothills Trail evolved from a utilitarian path to a recreational trail, attracting hikers, nature enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers. Today, the trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, including alpine meadows, dense forests, and rugged peaks. It stands as a testament to the historical significance of the Bridger Mountains and continues to be cherished by locals and visitors alike.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Sypes Canyon Trailhead: Located at the end of Sypes Canyon Road, this trailhead provides access to the Bridger Foothills Trail from the western side.

2. Middle Cottonwood Trailhead: Situated at the end of Middle Cottonwood Road, this access point allows hikers to enter the Bridger Foothills Trail from the southern side.

3. Bridger Creek Trailhead: Found at the end of Bridger Creek Road, this trailhead offers access to the Bridger Foothills Trail from the eastern side.

4. Truman Gulch Trailhead: Located at the end of Truman Gulch Road, this access point allows hikers to enter the Bridger Foothills Trail from the northern side.

5. Drinking Horse Mountain Trailhead: Situated at the end of Bridger Drive, this trailhead provides access to the Bridger Foothills Trail from the southern side.

6. College M Trailhead: Found at the end of College M Trail Road, this access point allows hikers to enter the Bridger Foothills Trail from the eastern side.

7. Fairy Lake Trailhead: Located at the end of Fairy Lake Road, this trailhead offers access to the Bridger Foothills Trail from the northern side.

8. Ross Peak Trailhead: Situated at the end of Ross Peak Road, this access point allows hikers to enter the Bridger Foothills Trail from the western side.

9. Stone Creek Trailhead: Found at the end of Stone Creek Road, this trailhead provides access to the Bridger Foothills Trail from the southern side.

10. Bear Canyon Trailhead: Located at the end of Bear Canyon Road, this access point allows hikers to enter the Bridger Foothills Trail from the eastern side.

Transportation Available

1. Bridger Mountain Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from the Bridger Foothills Trail.
2. Bozeman Taxi – Taxi service available for transportation needs in the Bridger Foothills Trail area.
3. Bridger Foothills Trail Rides – Horseback riding service offering guided tours along the Bridger Foothills Trail.
4. Bridger Foothills Trail Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring the Bridger Foothills Trail on two wheels.
5. Bridger Foothills Trail Bus – Public bus service with routes connecting various points near the Bridger Foothills Trail.


The Bridger Foothills Trail offers several amenities for visitors. Some of the amenities available at the trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at designated areas along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: The trail provides parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles while accessing the trail. These parking lots are usually located near the trailheads.

3. Camping Sites: There are designated camping sites along the Bridger Foothills Trail for those who wish to spend the night. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water sources.

4. Picnic Areas: The trail offers picnic areas where visitors can relax and enjoy their meals amidst the beautiful surroundings. These areas may have picnic tables, benches, and trash bins.

5. Trailhead Facilities: At the trailheads, visitors may find additional amenities such as information boards, maps, and sometimes even visitor centers with staff to provide assistance and information.

6. Water Sources: The trail may have access to water sources, such as streams or lakes, where visitors can refill their water bottles or enjoy a refreshing break.

7. Interpretive Signage: Along the trail, there may be interpretive signage that provides information about the local flora, fauna, and historical significance of the area.

It is important to note that specific amenities may vary depending on the exact location and management of the Bridger Foothills Trail. It is recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information on available amenities.

Nearby Services

1. Bridger Canyon Lodge – Rustic lodge offering comfortable accommodations near the trailhead.
2. Bridger Vista Lodge – Cozy mountain lodge with stunning views, located close to the trail.
3. Bridger Creek Campground – Campground with tent and RV sites, providing a convenient stay for outdoor enthusiasts.
4. Bridger Bowl Ski Area – Ski resort offering lodging options and dining facilities, situated near the trail.
5. Bridger Creek Golf Course – Golf course with a clubhouse restaurant, perfect for a post-hike meal.
6. Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital – Nearby hospital providing emergency medical services.
7. Bozeman Police Department – Local police department offering emergency assistance and law enforcement services.
8. Bozeman Fire Department – Fire department providing emergency fire and rescue services in the area.
9. Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office – County sheriff’s office offering emergency services and law enforcement support.
10. Bridger Veterinary Hospital – Veterinary hospital providing emergency pet care services.

Bridger Foothills Trail Difficulty Notes

The Bridger Foothills Trail offers a moderate to challenging difficulty level for hikers. The trail spans approximately 16 miles and features a variety of terrain, including steep ascents and descents, rocky sections, and narrow paths. Hikers should be prepared for a strenuous workout and have a good level of fitness to navigate the trail. Additionally, the trail can be exposed to the elements, with limited shade and potential for inclement weather. However, the stunning views of the surrounding Bridger Mountains and the rewarding sense of accomplishment make the trail worth the effort for those seeking a challenging outdoor adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Bridger Foothills Trail is a scenic hiking trail located in the Bridger Mountains near Bozeman, Montana. Along the trail, you can find various scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Bridger Foothills Trail:

1. Bridger Mountains: The trail itself offers stunning views of the Bridger Mountains, which are known for their rugged beauty and diverse wildlife.

2. Fairy Lake: Located near the trailhead, Fairy Lake is a picturesque alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks. It’s a popular spot for fishing, picnicking, and enjoying the serene beauty of the area.

3. Sacajawea Peak: As you hike along the trail, you’ll have the opportunity to summit Sacajawea Peak, the highest point in the Bridger Range. From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

4. Ross Pass: This historic mountain pass was used by Native Americans, fur trappers, and early settlers. It offers a glimpse into the region’s past and provides a scenic spot to rest and take in the views.

5. Mundy’s Gap: Another notable landmark along the trail is Mundy’s Gap, a saddle between two peaks that offers breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscape.

6. Wildflowers and Wildlife: The Bridger Foothills Trail is known for its abundant wildflowers, especially during the spring and summer months. Keep an eye out for colorful blooms and the chance to spot wildlife such as deer, elk, moose, and various bird species.

7. Forested Areas: The trail winds through dense forests of pine, fir, and aspen trees, providing a peaceful and shaded environment for hikers.

8. Rock Formations: Throughout the trail, you’ll encounter interesting rock formations, including cliffs, boulders, and outcroppings, which add to the scenic beauty of the area.

9. Waterfalls and Creeks: There are several small waterfalls and creeks along the trail, offering refreshing spots to cool off and enjoy the soothing sounds of flowing water.

10. Historical Significance: The Bridger Foothills Trail is part of the historic Bozeman Trail, which was used by pioneers during the westward expansion. Hiking the trail allows you to connect with the region’s rich history.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and other attractions you can experience while hiking the Bridger Foothills Trail. Remember to check trail conditions and obtain any necessary permits before embarking on your adventure.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Horses are not allowed on the trail.
– Bicycles are not allowed on the trail.
– Camping is not permitted along the trail.
– Fires are strictly prohibited.
– Hunting is not allowed within the trail area.
– Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
– Littering is strictly prohibited.
– Stay on designated trails and do not create new paths.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
– Do not remove or damage any natural or historical features.
– Follow all posted signs and regulations.
– The trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The Bridger Foothills Trail, located in the beautiful Bridger Mountain Range of Montana, offers a stunning outdoor experience for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit this trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. However, the summer months of June through August are generally considered the prime time to explore the Bridger Foothills Trail. During this period, the weather is pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C), making it ideal for hiking and camping.

In the summer, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, and the surrounding landscapes are lush and green. The Bridger Foothills Trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests, making it a perfect destination for photography enthusiasts. Additionally, wildlife sightings are more common during this time, as animals such as deer, elk, and various bird species are active.

It is important to note that the Bridger Foothills Trail experiences seasonal closures during the winter months. Typically, from November to April, the trail is covered in snow and becomes inaccessible due to hazardous conditions. Winter in the Bridger Mountains can be harsh, with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. However, for those who enjoy winter sports like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, this can be a fantastic time to visit the area. It is advisable to check with local authorities or trail management for up-to-date information on trail closures and conditions before planning a visit during the winter season.

Overall, the best time to visit the Bridger Foothills Trail is during the summer months when the weather is pleasant, the trail is open, and the natural beauty of the area is at its peak. Whether you are an avid hiker, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, the Bridger Foothills Trail offers a memorable experience in the heart of Montana’s stunning wilderness.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Bridger Foothills Trail offers limited wheelchair accessibility, with some sections being paved and relatively flat, allowing for easier navigation.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available at the trailhead, providing convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Trailhead Facilities: The trailhead is equipped with accessible restrooms and picnic areas, ensuring that individuals with disabilities have necessary amenities.
4. Trail Surface: The trail surface is generally well-maintained and suitable for wheelchair use, although some sections may have uneven terrain or obstacles.
5. Benches and Rest Areas: Along the trail, there are several benches and rest areas strategically placed, providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
6. Signage: The trail features clear and visible signage, including accessible trail maps and directional signs, aiding individuals with disabilities in navigation.
7. Assistance Animals: Service animals are permitted on the Bridger Foothills Trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to have necessary support during their hike.
8. Trail Length and Difficulty: The trail offers various lengths and difficulty levels, allowing individuals with different abilities to choose a suitable section to explore.
9. Accessibility Information: The trail provides comprehensive accessibility information on their website, including details on accessible features, potential barriers, and alternative routes.
10. Accessibility Improvements: The Bridger Foothills Trail continues to make efforts to improve accessibility, with ongoing projects to enhance wheelchair accessibility and ADA accommodations.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Bridger Foothills Trail is a moderately difficult trail with steep sections and uneven terrain, requiring proper hiking gear and experience.
2. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, including sudden temperature drops, strong winds, and potential thunderstorms.
3. Trail Markings: Follow the trail markers and signs to stay on the designated path and avoid getting lost.
4. Wildlife Awareness: Be aware of potential encounters with wildlife, including bears, mountain lions, and snakes, and take necessary precautions such as carrying bear spray and making noise while hiking.
5. Water Sources: Carry enough water as there are limited water sources along the trail, and treat any water found in streams or lakes before consuming.
6. Trail Etiquette: Practice proper trail etiquette by yielding to uphill hikers, staying on the trail, and packing out all trash.
7. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit, a map, a compass, and a whistle in case of emergencies, and inform someone about your hiking plans.
8. Cell Phone Coverage: Expect limited or no cell phone coverage along the trail, so plan accordingly for communication needs.
9. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike in groups for safety, especially in remote areas of the trail.
10. Leave No Trace: Respect the environment by leaving no trace of your visit, including disposing of waste properly and avoiding damage to vegetation or wildlife habitats.

Conservation Notes

The Bridger Foothills Trail, located in southwestern Montana, is a significant natural resource that requires conservation efforts to ensure its long-term sustainability. As a popular recreational trail, it traverses through diverse ecosystems, including dense forests, meadows, and alpine regions, providing habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. The conservation status of the Bridger Foothills Trail is currently considered stable, but ongoing efforts are necessary to mitigate potential threats and maintain its ecological integrity.

One of the primary concerns for the conservation of this trail is the prevention of habitat degradation caused by human activities. As the trail attracts a large number of visitors, there is a risk of trampling vegetation, disturbing wildlife, and causing erosion. To address these issues, conservation organizations and land management agencies have implemented measures such as designated trails, signage, and educational programs to promote responsible use and minimize the impact on the surrounding environment.

Another aspect of conservation is the protection of sensitive species and their habitats along the Bridger Foothills Trail. This area is home to various wildlife, including elk, deer, black bears, and numerous bird species. Conservation efforts focus on preserving their natural habitats, ensuring adequate food sources, and minimizing disturbances caused by human presence. By implementing regulations and guidelines, such as seasonal closures and restricted access to certain areas, conservationists aim to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem that supports the diverse flora and fauna found in the region.

Overall, the conservation status of the Bridger Foothills Trail is currently stable, thanks to the collaborative efforts of conservation organizations, land management agencies, and responsible trail users. However, ongoing monitoring, research, and adaptive management strategies are crucial to address emerging challenges and maintain the trail’s ecological health for future generations to enjoy.

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