Outdoors in Town

Exploring Bozeman's southside trails.

The air is quiet save the swish of tall grasses in the breeze, the birds calling from the trees, and the gush of the creek. The sun warms my shoulders as I bite into a slice of watermelon; the juices flow over my lips. This is what summer tastes like. I look to the left and see one of my trail companions lapping water and munching her own tasty treat—yes, said companion is my dog. I then look to the companion on my right; his hazel eyes smile back at me as we take in the scenery, breathing the fresh air of spring. As we open our rotisserie chicken, a large black lab wanders toward us. He sniffs the culinary delights and refuses to budge until offered some sort of gustatory sacrifice. After he rejoins his owner on the trail, the quiet of the afternoon again settles in.

This is what Southside Saturdays—a weekly event to support the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT)—is all about. It's a great way to ease into summer, and makes getting outside a priority, even if just for an afternoon. Every Saturday, take to the trails between Kagy and Goldenstein, fueling up beforehand at Sola Café and at some point, snapping a picture with Outside Bozeman. Each photo and meal purchase means a dollar donation to GVLT. With so many trails nearby, it's easy to spend some quality time outside, all while supporting the organization that maintains these very trails. 

Take your picture with Outside Bozeman to donate a dollar to GVLT

Posing with O/B (and sending a buck to GVLT)

My first hike was to Tuckerman Park along the Sourdough trail with my boyfriend, Chris, and my dog, Lizzy. The plan: take advantage of the scenic area between Leverich and Bozeman creeks and enjoy a picnic, complete with desserts from Sola. After our alfresco dinner—what food doesn't taste better outside—we walked along Bozeman Creek enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of springtime: the muddy waters rushing past, the moist earth, the explosion of green as new plant life took hold. Lizzy made friends with a few other dogs; we stopped and chatted with their human counterparts before moving on. Between smiles from the occasional young family, a runner or two, and a couple bicyclists, Chris and I marveled at how remote the trail felt—hard to believe we were in the midst of civilization. 

Picnic in the park 

Picnic in the sun: doesn't get any better

Late-spring storms are a common occurrence in Bozeman, and as the gathering clouds darkened, we remained relaxed, secure in the knowledge that we could beat a hasty retreat if necessary—yet another advantage of these trails being so close to home. Don’t get me wrong, leaving city limits and enjoying wild nature is something everyone should do. But like most people, I don't relish the idea of getting thorougly soggy and slogging through five miles of mud back to the car. Not to mention that Lizzy is terrified of thunder. She does not have an aversion to thunder; she does not dislike thunder; she is TERRIFIED of thunder. So being able to withdraw before the thunderstorm hit was a huge relief. 

Chris and Liz

Giving Lizzy a break with the ol' sheep carry

We reach the end of the trail as the smell of imminent rain permeates the air. Lizzy's nails click across the wooden bridge; the small span of Leverich creek gurgles underneath. As Lizzy settles in the truck, we hear thunder in the distance. While Lizzy crawls beneath me, Chris and I catch each other's eyes with a knowing smile. I pull out the GVLT trails map and we start planning next Saturday's outing. Maybe Graf's Park, Allison Park, or Alder Creek Park... or maybe we'll just wander, letting the spring wind blow us where it may, with the sights and sounds of nature to keep us company. 

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