Garnet Mountain Trail

Strenuous day hike to the top of Garnet Mountain with old fire lookout, now used as a recreational cabin.

photo: Garnet Mountain fire lookout, now a rental cabin. Photo by USDA Forest Service.

Length: 3.40 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry
Agency: USDA Forest Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Dogs - On leash
Equestrian - Riding
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running

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Location: Just north of Big Sky, MT., In Gallatin National Forest, 25 mi. S of Bozeman on Squaw Creek Road 2 mi. off US 191.

State(s): Montana
Counties: Gallatin
Longitude: -111.20673
Latitude: 45.42651

Driving Directions

From Bozeman, take Hwy. 191 south for about 17 miles. Take a left over the Squaw Creek Bridge, then turn right and parallel the river before bending left into the Squaw Creek drainage. For the singletrack route, look for a small parking area on the left; this lot also serves the Storm Castle trailhead. The marker for Garnet Mountain is across the road. For the double-track option, continue on the Squaw Creek Rd., taking a right at the fork. Park at the end of the road.


This hike has two routes. One follows an old double-track logging road, climbing steadily until the very end. The other is a steep singletrack that ties into the logging road about a half-mile below the peak. The singletrack trail is 3.5 miles to the top, gaining 2,800 feet of elevation along the way. The double-track trail winds around the back side of the mountain, passing Rat Lake, a few ponds, and the turnoff to Pioneer Lakes along its 4-mile length. Both routes offer great views—the canyon's forested slopes and distant peaks make for epic scenery. Near the summit, the trail passes through a livestock fence and climbs to a fire lookout tower atop the mountain. The tower was built in 1930 and is available to rent for camping through the Montana Recreation Rental Program. Carry bear spray.

Additional Details

Width: 24 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Soil

Average Grade: 15%
Maximum Grade: 30%
Elevation Low Point: 5,600
Elevation High Point: 8,300
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: Outside Bozeman Trail Information
Website: USFS Lookout Details

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail management:
Jonathan Kempff
Gallatin National Forest
10 East Babcock
Bozeman , MT 59715
(406) 587-6732

Information contact:
Brian McNeil
3710 Fallon Street, Suite C
Bozeman , MT 59718
(406) 522-2520



Garnet Mountain fire lookout, now a rental cabin. Photo by USDA Forest Service.

Garnet Mountain fire lookout, now a rental cabin. Photo by USDA Forest Service.


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