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Best Hiking Trails in Montana – USA

Overview

Known as Big Sky Country, the sparsely populated state of Montana is known for its wide open spaces and beautiful landscapes.  The western part of the state is quite mountainous and hiking is popular here, particularly in Glacier National Park, a stunning park near the Canadian border with some of the best hiking trails in not only the state but the whole country.  There are many other places to hike, including: Custser Gallatin National Forest, Helena-Lewis and Clark Wilderness, Bitterroot National Forest, Flathead National Forest, Kootenai National Forest and so much more. The best months to hike are June to September. Read on for more information on where and when to hike in Montana. 

Capital: Helena

When To Hike in Montana – USA?

June – September: Driest, warmest time, least chance of snow
October – May: Cold/snow

Climate: Mostly continental – warm summers and cold, snowy winters. Montana is known as one of the coldest states in the US.  Early summer can have rain and thunderstorms. July and August are the best months. 

 

For monthly weather (by city): Montana Monthly Weather

For current weather: Montana Statewide Weather Information 

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: Well-marked trails with good maps and guidebooks, along with other resources for hiking trip planning. 

Transportation required: Car

Where to stay in Montana for hiking:

  • Helena
  • West Glacier
  • Bozeman
  • Libby
  • Kalispell
  • Lolo
  • Gardiner

 

Most popular hikes in Montana – USA

The western part of the state is mountainous with the Rocky Mountains and other ranges offering extensive hiking opportunities, including in Glacier National park, Custer Gallatin National Forest, Big Sky, and Flathead National Forest, and many others. Highest Mountain: Granite Peak (3904 m). There is a small part of Yellowstone National Park in the southeastern part of Montana, but the park and its trails are mainly in Wyoming.

Filter out hiking places of Montana – USA by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Crazy Mountains

  • Small mountain range near Bozeman
  • Land is privately owned so visitor access is limited
  • Crazy Mountains Hiking

Custer Gallatin National Forest

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness

Mount Helena City Park

Lolo National Forest

Little Belt Mountains

Old Baldy

Helena-Lewis and Clark Wilderness

Anaconda Pintler Wilderness

Big Sky

Tobacco Root Mountains

Bitterroot National Forest

  • Popular place for hiking

Bob Marshall Wilderness

Flathead National Forest

Kootenai National Forest

Glacier National Park

Long Distance Trails of Montana – USA

Montana – USA's Walking & Hiking Resources

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Montana Hiking Books: Many books, small sample below; a lot of books on hiking Glacier National Park

  • 100 Classic Hikes: Montana: Glacier National Park, Western Mountain Ranges, Beartooth Range, Madison and Gallatin Ranges, Bob Marshall Wilderness, Eastern Prairies and Badlands, by Douglas Lorain, 2018, Mountaineers Books – great guide, which gives best times for various hikes – https://amzn.to/3w7dVgH
  • Hiking Montana, 10th Edition, A Falcon Guide, by Bill Schneider and Russ Schneider, 2014, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/3xTgVxG
  • Day Hikes Around Missoula, Montana, Including the Bitterroots and the Seeley-Swan Valley, by Robert Stone, 2013, Day Hike Books – https://amzn.to/3Qb6jR9
  • Day Hikes Around Bozeman, Montana, by Robert Stone, 2011, Day Hike Books – https://amzn.to/4aYekB1
  • Day Hiking Glacier National Park and Western Montana: Cabinets, Mission and Swan Ranges, Missoula Bitterroots, by Aaron Thiesen, 2018, Mountaineers Books – https://amzn.to/3UogmEV
  • Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks: A Guide to the Parks’ Greatest Hiking Adventures (Regional Hiking Series), by Erik Molvar, 2018, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/3W1lLTO
  • Hiking Montana: Bozeman: A Guide to the Area’s Greatest Hikes, by Bill Schneider, 2015, Falcon Guide – https://amzn.to/4b3m5FI
  • Hiking the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, by Bill Schneider, 2015, Falcon Guide – https://amzn.to/4aEFCNa
  • Hiking the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, by Scott Steinberg, 2012, Falcon Guide – https://amzn.to/3Q6mY8w
  • Exploring Montana’s Pioneer Mountains: Trails and Natural History of this Hidden Gem, by Leroy Friel, 2014, Farcountry Press – https://amzn.to/448FUcr
  • Fodor’s Montana and Wyoming: with Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Parks (Full-color Travel Guide), by Fodor’s Travel Guides, 2021, Fodor’s Travel Guides – https://amzn.to/4cWmED4

 

Montana Hiking Associations/Clubs:

 

Best Hiking Trails in Montana:

There are too many fantastic hikes in Montana to choose a handful, but here’s a small sampling. You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, official park websites, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist offices:

  • Grinnell Glacier – Glacier National Park
  • Highline Trail – Glacier National Park
  • Hidden Lake – Glacier National Park
  • Cracker Lake – Glacier National Park
  • Granite Park Chalet – Glacier National Park
  • Pitamakan-Dawson Loop – Glacier National Park
  • Baldy Peak – Custer Gallatin National Forest
  • Mount Aeneas – Flathead National Forest
  • Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail – Flathead National Forest
  • Glacier Lake – Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness

Easy Hiking Trails in Montana:

  • Avalanche Lake – Glacier National Park
  • Lava Lake Trail – Custer Gallatin National Forest
  • Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn – Yellowstone National Park
  • Leigh Lake – Kootenai National Forest

 

Montana Hiking Websites:

 

Montana Weather Website:

 

Montana Official Tourism Site:  

 

Montana Apps: 

 

Montana Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Check for wildfire season

Other Important Points

  • Montana has a high number of grizzly bears