Bear Canyon Trail

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 bear canyon, hike, trail

4.5 miles one-way to the junction (the most popular turnaround), 18 miles (round-trip to Bear Lakes) 

Duration: 2 to 8 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Elevation Gain: 400 to 1,700 feet 

Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, trail running, cross-country skiing

Crowds: Heavy traffic

Bear Canyon is a lush drainage between Mount Ellis and Chestnut Mountain southeast of Bozeman. The Bear Canyon trail follows Bear Creek up the 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 or bike. Beyond the junction, the trail climbs 1,400 feet to Bear Lakes. On the path to the lakes, the Chesnut Mountain Trail veers off to the east. 

Seasonal Conditions
Only foot traffic is allowed from April 1 to July 16; then mountain bikes are allowed. During spring and mid-summer, the trail can be muddy in shaded areas and quite buggy during wet months. The trail is rocky, so navigating in snow and ice is difficult but possible.

Head east on I-90 and take the Bear Canyon exit, the first exit east of Bozeman. Turn right and then make a quick left onto Bear Canyon Rd. Drive approximately four 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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