The Hyalite to South Cottonwood Trail is a real Jekyll & Hyde Trail, definitely not a trail for the cocky gung-ho riders, and definitely not a trail to test your $89 full suspension Walmart Mongoose.
But, if you are up for a scary challenge then this trail is definitely the dogs bollocks!!
Trail Stats & Information
Nearby City: Bozeman
Length: 11.4 miles
Trail Type: Point 2 Point, or loop ( for loop add about 14 miles )
Skill Level: Technically very difficult. Physically difficult.
Duration: 3-4 hours
Trailhead Elev: 6,600 feet
Top Elev: 7,920 feet
The History Rock trail almost immediately begins a 3 mile climb out of the parking lot. The first 1/2 mile is a good warmup before it becomes steep and sustained for about 2 miles to a junction. This is all cleanable, but will definetly get your heart pumping. Once you reach a meadow with beautiful views of Mt. Blackmore, you know you are done climbing, from here on it is downhill.
Technical switchbacks, rocks and roots will make this a terrifying ride.
Traihead was easy to find, it was well marked easy to follow. The first 20 minutes on the History Rock Trail was easy going, and I was pretty confident I would manage to reach the top without stopping.. 10 minutes past History Rock and I was walking!! and I probably spent 10-15 walking, this trail was killin’ me!!.
The strange thing about this trail, is it looks and feels easy, it is not overly steep, the trail is in good shape, not rocky or many roots, but that was just deceiving!!.. I am a fairly decent climber, but you would have to come from a very good stable to make it to the top of this one without stopping and walking.
Once at the top, it all opens up to a mountain meadow with stunning views, and right there in front of you, is a beautiful very narrow singletrack dropping down as far as you can see.. I am not much of a poet, but when I saw that I almost became one!
I was off like a greased whippet screaming down the smooth singletrack, just as I was hitting take off speed, the trail became rocky, and I was up & down like Bangkok Betty still going too fast, then out of nowhere a 130 degree switchback was in front of me. Don’t ask me how I did it, but I managed to get around it in one piece, but I had been warned, this trail is not to be taken lightly. The 5 miles that followed were darn right abusive and pretty scary, absolutely zero room for error, if you fall on this trail, you are gonna have some serious bacon… and that’s if you’re lucky, this is definitely not a trail you want to fall off your steed. Uncomfortable with large rocks and tech switchbacks?.. how about a 3 foot fall on a switchback? thank the lord I saw it on time and managed to come to a safe stop, ‘cos if you Endo here, you are gonna have 5 seconds to learn how to fly, or get hurt very badly..
This is a fantastic trail, but to fully enjoy it you have to remember 2 very important things.. Go too fast and you are gonna get seriously hurt, and go too slow and you will get seriously hurt
Treat this trail with respect and don’t forget to thank the ” Trail Guardian” if you make it down in one piece.
Great Trail with a high buzz factor and some great views, really sweet singletrack. The climb is physically very demanding, and the downhill is pretty abusive and technical
Traffic on Trail : no one untill the last mile from the Cottonwood TH
Wild Life : too tired to notice while climbing, and too much concentration on the downhill to notice
Scenery : Some very scenic stretches
Other : Just be very careful and Good Luck
My Trail Rating : 8.5 / 10