6 Montana hiking trails with breathtaking views

Peter Watson

Here are the six superb hiking trails in Montana that make the most of the extraordinary scenery on offer in Big Sky Country.

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The sculpted peaks of Glacier National Park are perfect for hiking (Image: TheBigMK/Shutterstock)

Located where the Great Plains hit the Rockies, Montana is home to some of the finest expanses of wilderness in the country.

A day of hiking in Montana can take you along spiralling mountain passes, sprawling forests, and crystal lakes.

As well as Montana Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, Montana is also home to a further seven National Park Service areas.

It's worth taking the time to explore everything from the state's historic battlefields to its natural wonders across all corners of Big Sky Country.

A taste of some of Montana's breathtaking scenery (Video: MontanaTV)

For those looking to lace up and take a trek with a view this summer, these six Montana hiking trails offer breathtaking vistas and miles of unspoiled backcountry.

When hiking in Montana, remember to always be aware, never approach wildlife, and carry bear spray.

1. Ice Caves Trail

Location: Lewis and Clark National Forest

Distance: 5 miles

Duration: 2-3 hours

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A hiker on the Ice Caves Trail (Image: Montana Office of Tourism)

This mountain trail leads hikers to one of the most unique outdoor destinations in Montana. The Ice Caves Trail runs through the Big Snowy Mountains, just a short drive from Lewistown.

Visitors looking to hike this moderately difficult five-mile trail will be rewarded with a view of this impressive ice cave. The walls are made of 400-million-year-old white limestone, and ice columns covering the cave remain frozen well into September.

The trail also provides great views of the surrounding mountain ranges, as hikers can even catch a glimpse of the Grand Teton Range on a clear day.

More information on this hiking trail is available here.

2. Cap Rock Nature Trail

Location: Makoshika State Park

Distance: 1 mile

Duration: 1 hour

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A hiker crosses a deep ravine in the Makoshika State Park, Montana (Image: Montana Office of Tourism)

Summer is a great time to visit Makoshika State Park, the largest of the 54 state parks in Montana.

The badlands of Makoshika offers a one-of-a-kind combination of deep ravines, stunning rock formations, and a large collection of fossils.

For those looking to explore this local wonder, hike the Cap Rock Trail, a short one-mile loop that takes visitors across a natural bridge and to the top of the park for some spectacular views.

More information on the Cap Rock Nature Trail is available here.

Some more scenes from Makoshika State Park (Video: MontanaTV)

3. Our Lake

Location: Lewis and Clark National Forest

Distance: 7 miles

Duration: 2-3 hours

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The famous Big Skies of Montana en route to Our Lake (Image: Montana Office of Tourism)

Take a hike to see Our Lake along the east side of the Rocky Mountain Front and at the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

This alpine lake sits tucked away in the mountains at 7,295 feet. Hikers are sure to enjoy this seven-mile round-trip trail, which passes two tranquil waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife.

In the summer, the Our Lake meadows fill with beautiful wildflowers as mountain goats climb the cliffs, creating the perfect atmosphere for a morning hike.

More information on the Our Lake hiking trail is available here.

4. Calypso Trail

Location: Terry Badlands Wilderness Study Area

Distance: 5.5 miles

Duration: 2-3 hours

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Taking a break along the Calypso Trail in Montana (Image: Montana Office of Tourism)

The Calypso Trail is a 5.5-mile primitive road that runs through the Terry Badlands Wilderness Study Area. This hike leads hikers along breathtaking sandstone arches, bridges, and spires.

Some of these formations reach up to 2,900 feet in elevation. Visitors walking this serene trail will be surrounded by the truly untouched wilderness of the Terry Badlands.

More information on the Calypso Trail is available here.

5. Beehive Basin Trail

Location: Custer Gallatin National Forest

Distance: 6.6 miles

Duration: 2-3 hours

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Picture perfect along the Beehive Basin Trail (Image: Montana Office of Tourism)

The Beehive Basin Trail is a Montana favorite and offers breathtaking views of the infamous Big Sky.

Visitors can hike the 6.6-mile round trip trail to Beehive Basin, a beautiful glacial clearing with a crystal lake overlooking the towering Lone Peak.

In the summer, this quiet spot is teeming with flowers and roaming wildlife. This is the perfect trip for hikers looking for a comforting spot for a lunchtime picnic.

More information on the Beehive Basin Trail is available here.

6. Siyeh Pass to Sunrift Gorge

Location: Glacier National Park

Distance: 10 miles

Duration: 3-4 hours

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An idyllic scene in Glacier National Park (Image: Montana Office of Tourism)

Hiking along the sweeping mountains and sprawling forests of Glacier National Park is a can't-miss summer to-do.

Siyeh Pass is a 10-mile trail that runs through the heart of Glacier, beginning among the alpine trees and entering Preston Park, a glacially-formed valley that boasts a beautiful wildflower meadow.

Then take the switchbacks along Matahpi Peak and enjoy the one-of-a-kind look at the Crown of the Continent before ending at Sunrift Gorge.

A few more scenes from Glacier National Park (Video: MontanaTV)

Don't want to take the full hike back? The free Going-to-the-Sun shuttle transports visitors between Sunrift Gorge and Siyeh Bend.

More information on the Siyeh Pass to Sunrift Gorge hiking trail is available here.

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Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

Phoenix, AZ
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