Mountains & Mingling

A weekend of hiking, biking, and friends in Bozeman.

by Tyler Gobin

It’s an energy that’s inexpressible. It’s filling tip jars and trailheads, it’s revealing bike paths and bombarding the breweries. It’s spring in Montana.

When Bozemanites are asked about their favorite season, most will say winter or summer, and unfortunately spring gets forgotten. It’s no surprise: winter has its powder, and summer, its absence of school. But spring is what fuels the summer fun – there’s a certain energy released after winter casts its last spell.

The M up to Mt. BaldyThat energy gives people more choices of what to do, and when to do it. Those unwilling to give up winter can hike up and get in a few more turns on the Bridgers, Beartooths, or Gallatin ranges. Those who prefer to cross-train on bike can tour their way around the valley and get into the mountain trails. The amount of activities to pursue multiplies with the time to do them.

In spring, the sun graciously hangs in the sky longer each day so we may enjoy time outside at our favorite bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. Live music fills the streets and the population is back to a sustainable level as college students leave and give us room to breathe. The sun is spring’s best friend and either one would not be complete without the other. It motivates people who hid during the winter to get back outside and enjoy the adventures to be had. There’s much to say about spring in Montana, but even more to live.

Last weekend exemplified this unique spring spirit. It was filled with wilderness adventure and social activities right on Main Street. The outdoors highlight was a trek to the top of Mount Baldy, high in the Bridgers above town. Baldy offers incredible views of the Beartooths, Crazies, and Gallatin mountains. It was straight up as I climbed to the ridge where the trail continued over multiple faux peaks and ended with one last push up an open, steep slope of scree. The hike up was a thigh burner, lasting an hour and a half and gaining more than 4,000 feet of elevation from the “M” trailhead, but the reward at the top was phenomenal. I was lucky enough to enjoy the scenery from the summit on a bluebird day. It consistently amazes me how isolated I can feel while still being so close to Bozeman – and given the hunger you’ll feel after such a hike, the short drive back is nice.

Mt. Baldy, M trail, Bozeman, MSU, Montana State University

A view from the top of Mount Baldy

On Saturday night I joined some friends at  a new Indian restaurant called Saffron Table. The tiny eatery is wedged between the Roost and the Round House on W. Main. It has a small bar, small menus, and what will become a small garden, but big atmosphere. We dined, drank, and laughed our way through the evening with our friendly waitress; the owner of the establishment even joined the fun. Bozeman needed some Middle Eastern cuisine on its plate and Saffron Table delivers with authentic flavors, colors, and textures.

There are a lot of things to do in the Gallatin Valley regardless of the time of year, but no season gives you the options that spring does. Whether you’re an outdoors addict, music buff, or foodie, spring’s inimitable bounty contributes to each and every aspect of life in Bozeman – so don’t wait for the temperature to max out. Instead, get out there and make the most of Bozeman’s best season.