Bangtail Divide Trail Bozeman Montana
My first time riding in the Bozeman & Big Sky area. Arrived on another glorious sunny day, set up camp and headed straight to the bike shop for a map and advice. There are plenty of trails to choose from in this area, but I quickly opted for the Bangtail Divide Trail.
So, did this first Bozeman trail impress me? or was it a big disappointment?
Trail Stats & Information
Nearby City: Bozeman
Length: 23.8 miles
Trail Type: Point to Point with shuttle or loop [ for loop add 8 miles to total length ]
Skill Level: Aerobically: strenuous; Technically: easy
Duration: 4-6 hours
Trailhead Elev: 5,560 feet
Top Elev: 7,950 feet
A relatively new trail to the area, the Baingtail Divide trail was completed in 2003. The trail spans from the Brackett Creek Trailhead to Stone Creek for a total of approximately 23.8 miles. The trail is well built and hardly technical, but due to the length, is considered an intermediate trail.
Built with bikers in mind, the trail has excellent descents on both ends of the trail with a couple big grassy meadows that provide a great view of several mountain ranges to include the Briders, Crazies, Absaroka, Gallatin, and Madison.
There are several different ways to ride the trail. You can car shuttle from one end to the other, you can ride it as a loop if you add about 7 or 8 miles of highway riding, or you can ride it in sections by using Olson Road which puts you onto the southern part of the northern 1/3 of the trail. The most common choice is to ride from the southern to north (Stone Creek to Brackett Creek)
Trailhead is easy to find, the trail is well marked. There is a lot of climbing on this trail, but it is definitely doable, just put your steed into low gear, switch off , and enjoy the climb. This trail is in my books technically easy, but it is a long ride and a long walk out if anything goes wrong, so go well prepared. I did this trail as a P2P (point 2 point) starting at Stone Creek and finishing at Bracket Creek, however this trail can be done from both directions.
Oooohhh yes!! this trail is what mountain biking is about, not too strenuous, 23 miles of sweet singletrack through stunning scenery. The trail is well maintained and well marked. The scenery is fantastic, and it came with the smell of fresh pine and 1000’s of wild flowers. The 2-3 hour total climb is rewarded with a fantastic smooth downhill with in most places more than enough visibility to open up to a fair speed.. Don’t open up too much, cos there are a few very tight switchbacks that appear out of nowhere, and some have some pretty brutal drops that you definitely don’t want to hit going too fast.. If this trail doesn’t put a smile on your chops, then nothing will!
All in all, the Bangtail Divide Trail is a definite “Must Ride Trail”.. I did this one in 4 hours 29 min. and I enjoyed every second of both the riding and the scenery.
Traffic on Trail : 5 mountain bikers, one jogger, one hiker
Wild Life : I did not see anything
Scenery : 23 miles of scenery
Other : Take extra fluids, don’t forget the bug repellent there are ( were) lots of pesky horseflies.
My Trail Rating : 9.5 / 10
First time I went up to Bangtail Ridge was in 1970 or ’71 and it wasn’t on a bike. It was still snowy on the peaks when we went up the trail to the MSU Bangtail Mountain (weather) Observatory. It was a very rough ride, going all the way to the top. Most snowmobilers only went to a large meadow and played around, criss-crossing the snow. They missed the pleasure of high speed jumps over drifts, followed by hard teeth-jarring slams on the trail, the sharp switchback and the steep run for the top. But it was worth it, and even better in summer, when we took a trail up the back side of the mountain. I suppose it was called a road that we climbed in a Ford truck, and when we reached the top, our only neighbors were wild creatures and a sheepherder. On one morning walk, I surprised a herd of deer (which bikers would probably never see), and they didn’t run away. The trees on the top of the mountain were all gnarled, spread out and misshapen from the heavy snows and winds and the air was fragrant with their scent. We didn’t have a water source at the observatory, but had to melt snow or carry it in. There was a sheep trough on the other side of the ridge that was spring fed, and we drove across to fill our five gallon cans for cooking, cleaning and drinking. We didn’t take baths. Ever tried to scrub up from a five-gallon can? It was hard enough getting water out of it for cooking and washing dishes. Once, on the way over to the watering trough, I counted twenty-seven different kinds of wildflowers. These were all low-growing alpine type flowers, small, but lovely.