From the archives.
I wanted to get out for a nice long snowshoe hike on the CDT over Christmas break, but it didn’t happen – So I decided to share the Hyalite Canyon hike that my daughter (Amy) and I did last January (2017).
A South-Central Montana Playground
Hyalite is a glacially carved U-shaped canyon about 20 miles south of Bozeman that offers a wide range of outdoor opportunities – Mountain biking, Nordic skiing, back-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and ice climbing are all enjoyed here. This, along with its proximity to Bozeman and Montana State University, make Hyalite one of the most heavily used recreational areas in the state. It is also one of the best waterfall hikes in the region – There are about a dozen scattered along the six-mile length of the canyon, including several right along the trail. I’ve hiked it a couple times during the summer, but I definitely like it more as a winter trek (as long as weather and trail conditions are favorable). As much as I enjoy watching liquid water plunge over cliffs, it’s even more impressive to see the falls when they are frozen solid. In fact, Hyalite Canyon is home to some of the best ice climbing in North America, and watching climbers scaling the frozen, sky-blue waterfalls was definitely one of the highlights of this trip. (Photo Tour)
January 29, 2017.
The trail gradually climbs 3,900 ft. during the six-mile trek from the trailhead to Hyalite Lake, which sits in the cirque at the south end of the valley. This is where most people eat lunch before starting back. More ambitious hikers may opt to climb an additional two steep miles (1,400 ft.) to Hyalite Peak (10,298 ft.). On the day that Amy and I visited, the first 4.5 miles of trail were nicely snow-packed; perfect for microspikes. We also packed snowshoes, which were needed for the last mile or two as we hiked up to the cirque and explored the area around Hyalite Lake. However, we didn’t climb the peak because we were concerned about avalanche danger, plus we wanted to get home at a reasonable time – maybe next time.
In a nutshell.
Amy and I left Helena at 7 am, drove 118 miles, started hiking at 9:30 am, hiked up and around Hyalite Lake and back (12.5 miles round-trip), finished hiking at 3:30 pm, and returned to Helena at 6:15 pm. If you go in the winter, be sure to check the condition of the road from Bozeman to the trailhead – It can be really bad. If you make the trip, I hope you have good roads, great weather, and nice trail conditions as Amy and I did when we took our walk. Happy trails, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
- Photo Tour.
Hike completed in January of 2017.
- Map of the southern end of Hyalite Canyon.
Zoom out to see the entire basin.
- Hyalite Canyon Ice Climbing
Some of the best ice in North America.
- Friends of Hyalite.
They help take care of Hyalite Canyon.
Below: This map marks hikes that have been featured on bigskywalker.com so far – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.
Awesome looking winter hike. The frozen falls are beautiful but I think I’d give ice climbing a pass. Happy New Year and I wish you happy hiking, snowshoeing and other adventures in 2018.
No ice-climbing for me either. Sometimes its OK to be a spectator.