Palisade Falls Trail In Montana

Here is everything you need to know about the Palisade Falls Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Montana
  • Length: 0.6 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: U.S. Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes.
  • Website:

The Palisade Falls Trail, located in the Gallatin National Forest near Bozeman, Montana, holds a rich historical significance. The trail follows the path of the Palisade Creek, which flows down from the towering Palisade Mountain Range. The area has long been inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shoshone, Crow, and Salish peoples, who utilized the trail for hunting, gathering, and trading.

During the early 19th century, European explorers and fur trappers began to venture into the region. The Lewis and Clark Expedition, which passed through Montana in 1805, likely encountered the Palisade Falls area during their journey. Trappers and traders soon followed, establishing a network of trails and trading posts throughout the region. The Palisade Falls Trail became an important route for these early pioneers, providing access to the abundant natural resources of the area.

In the late 19th century, the Palisade Falls Trail gained further significance with the arrival of settlers and the establishment of homesteads in the Gallatin Valley. The trail served as a vital transportation route for these settlers, connecting them to nearby communities and facilitating trade. The construction of the Northern Pacific Railway in the late 1800s further enhanced the accessibility of the trail, as it provided a link to the national rail network.

Today, the Palisade Falls Trail continues to be a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering breathtaking views of the 80-foot waterfall and the surrounding natural beauty. While the trail’s historical significance may have evolved over time, its legacy as a vital pathway for Native Americans, explorers, trappers, and settlers remains an integral part of the region’s history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

The major access point or trailhead for the Palisade Falls Trail is located in the Hyalite Canyon Recreation Area near Bozeman, Montana.

Transportation Available

1. Palisade Falls Shuttle – Shuttle service to and from Palisade Falls Trail.
2. Palisade Falls Taxi – Taxi service available for transportation to Palisade Falls Trail.
3. Palisade Falls Rideshare – Rideshare service offering convenient transportation options to Palisade Falls Trail.
4. Palisade Falls Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring Palisade Falls Trail and surrounding areas.
5. Palisade Falls Bus – Bus service with stops near Palisade Falls Trail for easy access to the trailhead.


The amenities available at the Palisade Falls Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail.

2. Parking: There should be designated parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping sites: Depending on the specific regulations and policies of the trail, there may be designated camping sites available for overnight stays.

4. Picnic areas: There might be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack.

5. Trail markers/signs: The trail should have clear markers or signs to guide hikers and ensure they stay on the designated path.

6. Information boards: There may be information boards at the trailhead or along the trail providing details about the trail, its history, and any safety precautions.

7. Benches or seating areas: There might be benches or seating areas along the trail where visitors can rest and take in the surroundings.

8. Trash receptacles: There should be trash cans or bins available at various points along the trail to encourage proper waste disposal.

9. Drinking water stations: Depending on the length and difficulty of the trail, there may be drinking water stations available for hikers to refill their water bottles.

10. Interpretive signs: There may be interpretive signs along the trail providing information about the local flora, fauna, geology, or other points of interest.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with the local park authorities or visitor center for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– Palisade Mountain Lodge – Rustic lodge offering comfortable accommodations near the trailhead.
– Bozeman Hot Springs Campground – Campground with hot springs, located a short drive away from the trail.

2. Food Services:
– Palisade Falls Picnic Area – On-site picnic area with tables and grills for a convenient outdoor meal.
– Montana Ale Works – Casual restaurant in Bozeman serving a variety of American dishes.

3. Emergency Services:
– Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital – Full-service hospital in Bozeman, equipped to handle emergencies.
– Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office – Local law enforcement agency providing emergency assistance in the area.

Palisade Falls Trail Difficulty Notes

The Palisade Falls Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers. The trail is approximately 1.1 miles long and features a well-maintained path with some steep sections. Hikers will encounter rocky terrain and occasional tree roots along the way, requiring careful footing. The trail gains about 500 feet in elevation, making it a moderate uphill climb. However, the breathtaking views of the 80-foot waterfall at the end of the trail make the effort worthwhile. Overall, the Palisade Falls Trail is suitable for most hikers with a moderate level of fitness and hiking experience.

Features And Attractions

Along the Palisade Falls Trail, you can find several scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the trail:

1. Palisade Falls: The main attraction of the trail, Palisade Falls is a stunning 80-foot waterfall cascading down a rock face. It offers a picturesque view and is a popular spot for photography.

2. Palisade Mountain: As you hike along the trail, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of Palisade Mountain. This towering peak provides a beautiful backdrop to the surrounding landscape.

3. Lava Rock Formations: The trail passes through areas with unique lava rock formations, showcasing the volcanic history of the region. These formations add an interesting geological aspect to the hike.

4. Wildlife Spotting: The trail is known for its diverse wildlife population. Keep an eye out for various bird species, including eagles and hawks, as well as deer, elk, and other small mammals.

5. Wildflower Meadows: During the spring and summer months, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers. The meadows along the way offer a colorful and fragrant experience.

6. Historical Significance: The area surrounding the trail has historical significance, as it was once inhabited by Native American tribes. You may come across remnants of their presence, such as ancient petroglyphs or artifacts.

7. Forested Scenery: The trail winds through a dense forest, providing a peaceful and serene atmosphere. The towering trees and lush vegetation create a tranquil environment for hikers.

8. Rock Climbing Opportunities: For those interested in rock climbing, there are designated areas along the trail where you can indulge in this adventurous activity. These spots offer challenging routes and breathtaking views.

9. Picnic Areas: Along the trail, you’ll find designated picnic areas where you can take a break, enjoy a meal, and soak in the surrounding natural beauty.

10. Interpretive Signs: Throughout the trail, you’ll encounter informative signs that provide details about the local flora, fauna, geology, and history. These signs enhance the educational aspect of the hike.

Remember to check with local authorities or park rangers for any specific guidelines or restrictions before embarking on the Palisade Falls Trail.

Usage Guidelines

– No pets allowed on the trail
– No camping or overnight stays
– No fires or open flames
– No littering or dumping
– No off-trail hiking or climbing
– No swimming or wading in the falls or pools
– No feeding or approaching wildlife
– No hunting or trapping
– No motorized vehicles or bicycles on the trail
– No amplified music or excessive noise
– No alcohol or illegal substances
– No picking or damaging plants or flowers
– No drones or remote-controlled devices
– No rock climbing or rappelling without proper permits
– No fishing without a valid fishing license
– No smoking except in designated areas
– No disturbing or removing historical or cultural artifacts
– No disturbing or damaging natural formations or geological features
– No disturbing or removing trail markers or signs
– No defacing or graffiti on rocks or trees
– No unauthorized commercial activities or events

Seasonal Information

The Palisade Falls Trail, located in the beautiful Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, Montana, offers a breathtaking hiking experience for nature enthusiasts. While the trail is open year-round, the best times to visit depend on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in.

During the summer months, from June to August, the trail is at its busiest. The weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius), making it ideal for hiking. The trail is surrounded by lush greenery, wildflowers, and the sound of rushing water from the falls. This is the perfect time to witness the falls in their full glory, as the snowmelt from the mountains feeds them, creating a spectacular display of cascading water. However, be prepared for crowds, as this is the peak tourist season.

If you prefer a quieter and more serene experience, visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall can be a great option. In spring, from April to May, the trail starts to thaw, and the surrounding landscape comes alive with blooming flowers and budding trees. The temperatures are mild, ranging from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21 degrees Celsius), making it a comfortable time for hiking. Fall, from September to October, offers stunning foliage as the leaves change color, creating a picturesque backdrop for your hike. The temperatures during this time range from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 15 degrees Celsius), so be sure to dress accordingly.

It’s important to note that during the winter months, from November to March, the Palisade Falls Trail can be subject to closures or limited accessibility due to heavy snowfall and icy conditions. The trail becomes a popular spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, but it’s crucial to check weather conditions and trail status before planning a visit. The frozen falls create a magical sight, but caution is advised as the terrain can be treacherous.

In conclusion, the best time to visit the Palisade Falls Trail depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring and fall, the bustling atmosphere of summer, or the serene beauty of winter, each season offers a unique experience on this stunning trail. Just remember to plan accordingly, check for seasonal closures, and be prepared for the weather conditions during your visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Palisade Falls Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its steep and uneven terrain.
2. ADA Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trailhead for visitors with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are located near the trailhead for the convenience of visitors with disabilities.
4. Trail Surface: The trail surface is primarily composed of natural materials such as dirt and rocks, which may pose challenges for individuals with mobility impairments.
5. Trail Width: The trail width varies throughout the trail, but it may not meet the minimum width requirements for wheelchair accessibility.
6. Trail Grade: The trail has steep sections and uneven terrain, making it difficult for individuals using wheelchairs or mobility aids to navigate.
7. Handrails: Handrails are not available along the trail, which may impact the stability and safety of individuals with mobility limitations.
8. Benches and Rest Areas: There are no designated benches or rest areas along the trail for individuals who may need to take breaks.
9. Assistance Animals: Visitors with disabilities are allowed to bring their assistance animals on the trail to provide necessary support.
10. Alternative Viewing Areas: For individuals unable to access the trail, there may be alternative viewing areas nearby that offer views of Palisade Falls.

Safety Information

1. Stay on the designated trail: Stick to the marked path to avoid getting lost or encountering hazardous areas.
2. Wear appropriate footwear: Use sturdy hiking shoes or boots to ensure good traction and prevent slips or falls.
3. Be cautious of slippery surfaces: Watch out for wet rocks or moss-covered areas that can be slippery and cause accidents.
4. Stay hydrated: Bring enough water to stay hydrated during the hike, especially in warmer weather.
5. Use sunscreen and wear a hat: Protect yourself from sunburn and heatstroke by applying sunscreen and wearing a hat.
6. Be aware of wildlife: Keep a safe distance from any wildlife you encounter and avoid feeding or approaching them.
7. Carry bear spray: In bear country, it is recommended to carry bear spray and know how to use it in case of an encounter.
8. Check weather conditions: Before starting the hike, check the weather forecast to avoid unexpected storms or dangerous conditions.
9. Hike with a buddy: It’s safer to hike with a companion, especially in remote areas, to help each other in case of emergencies.
10. Inform someone of your plans: Let someone know your hiking plans, including the expected return time, in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
11. Stay away from the waterfall’s edge: Avoid getting too close to the edge of Palisade Falls to prevent accidents or falls.
12. Respect trail closures: If the trail is closed due to maintenance or safety concerns, respect the closure and choose an alternative hike.
13. Pack essential supplies: Carry a first aid kit, extra clothing layers, snacks, and a map or compass in case of emergencies or unexpected situations.
14. Stay on guard for falling rocks: Be cautious of loose rocks or potential rockfall areas, especially near cliffs or steep sections.
15. Follow Leave No Trace principles: Minimize your impact on the environment by packing out all trash, staying on the trail, and respecting wildlife and vegetation.

Conservation Notes

The Palisade Falls Trail, located in the Gallatin National Forest near Bozeman, Montana, is considered to be in a relatively stable conservation status. The trail is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is part of the larger Hyalite Canyon Recreation Area. As a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, the conservation efforts surrounding the Palisade Falls Trail primarily focus on preserving the natural ecosystem and ensuring visitor safety.

One of the key conservation concerns for the trail is the protection of the surrounding vegetation and wildlife. Efforts are made to prevent damage to the fragile plant life and to minimize disturbance to the diverse range of animal species that call this area home. Visitors are encouraged to stay on designated trails and follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize their impact on the environment.

To maintain the trail’s conservation status, regular maintenance and monitoring are conducted. This includes trail repairs, erosion control, and removal of invasive species. The Forest Service also provides educational materials and signage to inform visitors about the importance of conservation and the specific guidelines to follow while exploring the trail. By promoting responsible outdoor practices, the conservation status of the Palisade Falls Trail is upheld, ensuring its long-term sustainability for future generations to enjoy.

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