South Cottonwood Trail

User Rating 
Average: 4.3 (3 votes)
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Located southwest of Bozeman, this trail follows South Cottonwood Creek through a dense old-growth forest with lush riparian areas and meadows, criss-crossing the creek along the way. This well-maintained trail is great for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking. The path connects to Hyalite Canyon via the History Rock trail at 6 miles and the Mount Blackmore trail at 8 miles, offering both short and full-day adventures. Choose an out-and-back at whatever distance, or drop a vehicle up Hyalite for a point-to-point hike or ride. This is a great trail on a hot day, as the frigid creek provides ongoing replenishment for hot humans and dogs alike.

Directions: Take S. 19th out past Hyalite to the intersection with Cottonwood Rd. Turn left and wind through a big S turn before taking another left on Cottonwood Canyon Rd. From there, it's about 2 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road.

For a map of this trail, click here. Map courtesy of Robert Stone's Day Hikes Around Bozeman, Montana.

Trail Info

up to 12 miles round trip
Elevation Gain
up to 900 feet
up to 6 hours


Average: 5 (1 vote)
July 17, 2014 - 1:24pm by: Maggie H
This dog-friendly trail is definitely a favorite of mine. It is great for trail-running, with terrain that is neither boring nor painfully steep. Crossing the river makes me feel like a badass, especially when I choose to forego the bridges and run straight through the water.
Average: 4 (1 vote)
August 15, 2014 - 1:43pm by: Isaac Lorton
An easy but spectacular trail close to town, for hiking, running, biking, and dogs.
Average: 5 (1 vote)
September 17, 2014 - 4:08pm by: Emily Whalen
Went here for a trail run yesterday and it was wonderful. Great trail and the dog loved all the spots to get in the water!
Average: 5 (1 vote)
January 28, 2017 - 7:02am by: Rae Tally
First time in area. Had 3 hours on this January afternoon and delighted to spend them on this trail! Beautiful vistas and right on the water at points along the hike. Would like to go back and spend more time on this trail.

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