Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!
Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give you some helpful details and tips to get on your way!
This week, we send you along a 48-mile stretch of trail – or series of trails – that follows the crest of the Gallatin Range from Hyalite Peak to the northern border of Yellowstone Peak.
Gallatin Crest Trail
Never crossed by road or highway, this long trail follows a range worn and carved by nature to a thin crest – barely wide enough for a foot path, with several of its peaks exceeding 10,000 feet!
Roundtrip: 48 miles
Directions: If you’d like to start at the Grotto Falls trailhead, you’ll first need to make your way to Hyalite Reservoir.
From Missoula, head east on Interstate 90 to Bozeman. Take Exit 305 there and head south on North 19th Avenue and then South 19th Avenue all the way through town and around the curve to Hyalite. There, take a sharp left-hand turn onto Hyalite Canyon Road and follow it along Hyalite Creek all the way to the reservoir.
Just past Chisholm Campround (on the southeast corner of the reservoir) you’ll turn right at the sign to Upper Hyalite Trailhead and then continue for two miles.
For the Daly Creek Trailhead, you’ll just depart from this route in Bozeman, where Highway 191 intersects 19th Avenue. Take that highway west (right) out of town and then south towards West Yellowstone. Upon entering Yellowstone National Park you’ll continue another mile south to the trailhead.
What to expect:
Whether you start your journey from the north (Grotto Falls) or from the south (Daly Creek), you should expect a wonderful 3-6 day backpacking excursion. That means plan to carry enough water to get through each full day with plans to camp along one of the few water sources each night. These include: Hyalite Lake, Crater Lake, the head of Mist Creek, Windy Pass, Rams Horn Lake, the head of Buffalo Horn Creek, and the head of Daly Lake.
Starting from the north end in Hyalite Canyon the trails are:
- 427 Hyalite Lake Trail
- 96 Gallatin Crest Trail
- 420 Windy Pass Cabin Trail & 82 Windy Pass Trail are common detours for overnight stays
- 96 Gallatin Crest Trail again
- 299 Gallatin Divide Trail
- 160 Ramshorn Lake Trail
- 150 Ramshorn Spur Trail
- 296 Tom Miner Divide Trail
- Sky Rim Trail along Yellowstone’s border
- Dailey Creek Trail in Yellowstone
It is important to bring a map of the area. In case of injury or uncooperative weather, there are a number of alternative ways down, but some are much longer than others.
Note: You will need a Yellowstone Back Country Camping permit if you plan to camp in the Park.
Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at hikewildmontana.org. And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:45 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!
Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!