Five Great Ski Trails

Five Great Ski Trails

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Melynda Harrison

The Greater Yellowstone region is chock-full of cross-country ski trails. Whether you want to ski with your pup, watch wildlife, or spend a night in a yurt, we’ve picked out some of the best trails in the area.


Trail 1: Canine Cacophony—Bozeman Creek, Bozeman


Specs: 10 miles round trip, 500 feet elevation gain

The Deal: Plan to see a lot of people and dogs on this trail, especially in the first couple miles. This trail is groomed by the Bridger Ski Foundation (bridgerskifoundation.com).

Getting There: Drive south on Sourdough Road 3.8 miles from Kagy Boulevard to Nash Boulevard. Turn right, and after .2 miles turn left at the Forest Service access sign. Drive .9 miles on Sourdough Canyon Road.

Skiing: Ski up the old logging road. This first mile or two of this tour can be packed out and icy, but continue on, knowing that better snow lies ahead. Pass the water-monitoring station at about .75 miles and head uphill as the trail meanders and alternates between gradual inclines and short hills until about 2.75 miles in, where it enters a flat, spruce-fir parkland. Continue skiing along the road until the trail drops down to a bridge over Bozeman Creek. This is the turn-around point.


Trail 2:
On the Way Home from Bridger—Stone Creek

Specs: 5.2 miles round trip, 540 feet elevation gain.

The Deal: This mellow tour follows a logging road and parallels Stone Creek as it heads up a drainage in the Bangtail Range.

Getting There: Take Bridger Canyon Road to Stone Creek Road on the right, 12 miles from Main Street. Turn right and either park just over the cattle guards or continue 1.2 miles to the trailhead parking at the Forest Service gate.

Skiing: Ski past the gate and along the vehicle-restricted logging road. After two miles, the road turns sharply to the right. This is the turnaround point; ski back the same way or continue up the road to explore further.


Trail 3:
Groomed Skiing—Hyalite Canyon, Bozeman

Getting There: Drive south on South 19th seven miles to Hyalite Canyon Road and the Gallatin National Forest sign. Turn left onto Hyalite Canyon Road and drive 9.9 miles. The plan is to have the road plowed all winter to the reservoir. There is a new parking area about 300 yards north of the reservoir.

Skiing: There are 20 miles of ski trails in the Hyalite drainage, about half of which are groomed. From the new parking lot you can ski up the west side of the reservoir on the Crescent Lake Trail to Window Rock, or you can kick and glide north to History Rock and cross the road to Lick Creek. Continue south to Palisade Falls and then back to the parking area.

Many of the loops can be combined to create the perfect ski tour. Snowmobiles are not permitted above Langhor Campground.


Trail #4:
Wildlife Viewing—Gneiss Creek, West Yellowstone

Specs: 3.6 miles round trip, 144-foot elevation loss

The Deal: This short, mellow trail leads to a spring heavily used by wildlife throughout the winter.

Getting There: From West Yellowstone, drive north 10.5 miles on Hwy 191 to a sign for Fir Ridge Cemetery on the east side of the highway. Turn east and down the short road to a plowed parking area.

Skiing: Ski up a small incline and past the trailhead sign. Head east across an open meadow, keeping an eye out for elk and bison to the south around Richards Creek.

After skiing through a small stand of trees, you’ll come to an open hillside on Fir Ridge. Head downhill—gently at first—and then down a steep drop to Campanula Springs. Be prepared to make some quick turns or snowplow. This is the turnaround spot, but there is still a lot to explore.


Trail #5:
Weekend Getaway—Harriman State Park, Island Park

Specs: When you want to get out of town for a couple days, but don’t have the time (or the funds) to go far, check out Harriman State Park.

The Deal: There are several options for overnighting. Three rentable houses are a 1.25-mile ski in. The yurts are approximately 200 yards. parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/reserve.aspx, 208-630-5050.

Getting There: Drive southwest from West Yellowstone on Hwy 20. At 36.5 miles turn right (west) onto Green Canyon Road. Drive 2.7 miles to the parking area.

Skiing: There are 243 miles of trails for skiing and snowshoeing; 18 miles are track groomed, 11 miles are groomed for skating, and 5 miles are ungroomed. Trails begin at the Visitor Center and are marked with blue diamonds and maps at most intersections.

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