Most people have hiked or biked to the popular lakes just outside of Bozeman such as Mystic Lake, Lava Lake and Hyalite Reservoir, but what about these other cool bodies of water?

This is just a small snapshot of the lakes you'll find near Bozeman. Consider it a thought-starter to get off the beaten path and explore more of your backyard. Cheers, and always be safe in the back country. Be prepared and bear aware.

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If you want to avoid the crowds, you might need to visit one of the less popular lakes in the area. The following will be no 'secret' to folks who hike all the time, but the majority of folks never venture farther than Hyalite or Mystic. Grab that bug spray and venture out a bit further.

Crescent Lake - (The little one!) Located on the west side of Hyalite, it's small and shallow but a lovely detour from the immensely popular Hyalite Reservoir. Consider it a nice side hike. Can get pretty muddy during wet weather. Scenic with lots of wildlife. About a 3 mile loop hike from the lot.

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Crescent Lake - (The bigger one!) Located father south, where 191 enters Yellowstone National Park. There are at least three different trail loops that will lead you to this very pretty lake...it just depends on your ability and time. Research before you go, as this one is definitely back country and requires some planning. FYI - it starts steep!

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Big Bear Lake - This is another small one, but pretty and accessible by forest service road making it a good choice for those with mobility issues. Sometimes you just need a place to take visiting friends that's nice for pictures but not slammed with people. This can be a nice option.

Hidden Lakes - East of Big Sky down 191, this series of lakes can make for a fun day. There are 8 small lakes within the hiking area. Bonus points if you make to all of them. NOTE: the road to the trailhead is never in great shape, with 4WD required. (Left at Portal Creek when traveling south on 191.)

Ramshorn Lake - Fairly long but it's slow and steady. The trail is a nearly 15 miles out and back but worth the effort. You'll encounter far less traffic than other locations and if you're into it, camping allows you the time to enjoy the area. Hikers, bikers and runners all enjoy this hike. (Take Buffalo Horn Trail near 320 Ranch south of Big Sky.)

Some very handy resources to find more trails, hikes and area lakes:

  • AllTrails.com - Great resource with maps, directions, ratings, pictures and helpful advice.
  • HikingProject.com - You can search by town, trail, lake or road to come up with some nice options to hike.
  • NPS.gov - Of course the National Park Service is a good place to search
  • US Forest Service - Goes without saying

Always let someone know exactly where you're going and what time you expect to be back. Bring plenty of fresh water and some snacks, appropriate clothing, sunscreen and bug spray. An emergency kit is definitely a good idea too. Montana weather changes very quickly, and even experienced hikers have needed SAR assistance around here. Safety first! It is Montana after all...

Hikes to Explore Outside in and Around Boise

Need to connect with nature a bit? Or at least escape the day to day grind? Check out these Boise area hikes, some are quick if you only have an hour or two and some are half day journeys.