Top Three Winter Hikes in Big Sky, Montana

By Blythe Beaubien | December 9, 2016

Pic credit: Shannon May |

Of course lots of visitors come to Big Sky in the winter to alpine ski or cross country ski. But, there are also some great Big Sky hikes that are beautiful during wintertime too. You can leave the bear spray at home because those cozy creatures are hunkered down in hibernation for winter but do dress warmly, bring plenty of layers, water, and your camera.

A favorite local hike in both the summer and winter is Ousel Falls. This is a short, 1.6 mile round trip hike to Big Sky's most beautiful waterfall on the South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River. The falls will most likely be frozen, depending on when you go, but it’s a spectacular site and a great photo opp. You may even see a few ice climbers! The trail can be slick in the afternoon once the sun goes behind the hill, so we suggest wearing tracks on your boots.  To access the trailhead, head down Ousel Falls Road, past Town Center for about 2 miles and the parking lot will be on the left side of the road. There is plenty of parking, a picnic table close by and restrooms.  

For a more challenging hike, head up towards Moonlight Basin to Beehive Basin Trail rated by Fox News as one of the top 5 World's Greatest Hikes. This hike turns into more of a snowshoe in the winter months. It is about 6.6 miles round trip, but offers spectacular views of Lone Peak and Big Sky Resort's ski runs. You may see some people snowshoeing with their skis to do some backcountry touring on the way down. If ski touring interests you, be sure you're safe in avalanche terrain. Dogs are welcome on this trail. From Highway 191, head up Lone Mountain Trail (Highway 64) for about 11 miles and turn right on Beehive Basin Road and continue for 1.7 miles to the trailhead. There is a small parking lot, but no restrooms. 

For a good family friendly winter hike, head just past Town Center to the South Fork Loop trail. This is an easy, 1 mile round trip hike. It's a great trail for hiking, biking or cross-country skiing and it's just a half mile from Town Center! Dogs are allowed on a leash or voice control. To access the trailhead, head east down Aspen Leaf Drive toward the South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River. The trailhead will be on the right side of the road just past the bridge over the river. 

So give your skis a rest and hike on!