Bear Canyon Trail

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 Bear Canyon Trail

Length: 4.4 miles (round-trip to the most popular turnaround), 18 miles (round-trip to Bear Lakes) 

Duration: 1 to 8 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Elevation Gain: 400 to 1,700 feet 

Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, trail running, dirt-biking

Crowds: Moderate to heavy traffic

Bear Canyon is a stream-fed canyon that drains the area between Mount Ellis and Chestnut Mountain southeast of Bozeman. The Bear Canyon trail follows Bear Creek up the lush, shady canyon and eventually to Bear Lakes. This trail stays close to the cascading waters of the creek, gaining relatively little elevation and making for a very pleasant hike. Beyond the turnaround for this hike, the trail climbs 1,400 feet to the Bear Lakes. On the path to the lakes, the Chesnut Mountain Trail veers off to the east. Carry bear spray. 

Seasonal Conditions
Only foot traffic is allowed from April 1 to July 16; then mountain bikes are allowed on the trail. During spring and early summer, the trail can be muddy in shaded areas. The trail is rocky, so navigating in snow and ice is difficult but doable. 

Head east on I-90 and take the Bear Canyon exit, the first exit east of Bozeman. Turn right on Bozeman Trail Rd. and then make a quick left onto Bear Canyon Rd. Drive approximately 4 miles to the parking area at the end of the road. 

Robert Stone's Bear Canyon Map

Map courtesy of Robert Stone's Day Hikes Around Bozeman, Montana.

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