High up South Cottonwood

Trial by Trail

Go-to mountain-bike trails. 

by David Tucker

Whether you’re new to biking or you’ve been ripping singletrack for years, Bozeman has something to offer. Here are a few classics to try out.

Mystic Lake: Choose Your Adventure
The beauty of the Mystic Lake trail is its variety; you can ride mellow Forest Service road and gnarly singletrack, all in one ride. If you’re just starting out, pace yourself with an out-and-back, anywhere from two to 18 miles up and down the dirt road. If you’re up for more of a challenge, make the ride a loop by adding the Wall of Death, a white-knuckle stretch of exposed singletrack.

South Cottonwood: Get in the Flow
If Bozeman has one trail that feels like it was built for biking, it’s South Cottonwood. Mellow climbs, flowy cross-country sections, and gentle descents make this a must-ride. Like Mystic Lake, it’s an out-and-back, so you can go for a short jaunt or an all-day epic. South Cottonwood also connects to History Rock, meaning you can add even more vertical to your ride if you shuttle. If you opt for this ride, we suggest starting from the Hyalite / History Rock side.

The colors of Chestnut

The colors of Chestnut.

Chestnut Mountain: Beginners Beware
Just east of town off I-90 is the trailhead for Chestnut, one of Bozeman’s more grueling climbs. Switchback after switchback, you’ll ascend to the top of a wildflower-covered ridge with incredible views of the Absarokas and Crazies. This ride is definitely for those in good shape, or those looking for punishment. Another out-and-back, the trail eventually connects to several other options; so again, as with many things in Bozeman, the size of the adventure depends only on your ambition.