Garnet Mountain Trail is a steep but short hike that leads you to a fire lookout cabin that was built in 1962. The end of the hike provides panoramic views of the Spanish Peaks, the Gallatin Range and Hyalite Ridge.
Head south on Highway 191 from Bozeman. After turning left out of Four Corners, drive 16.7 miles until you see a sign for Storm Castle Road. Take a left. If you cross the bridge near the Lava Lake trailhead, you've gone too far.
Once on Storm Castle Road, follow it to the right for almost two miles. You'll see The Storm Castle and Garnet Mountain trailhead signs.
The hike follows a steady incline for the first two miles and becomes very steep for the last mile or so. This hike is difficult because of the incline, yet very doable because of the short distance.
Averaging about two miles per hour, you'll get to the top of this hike in roughly two hours and the trip down will take you another hour and a half. Account for some time to take in the views at the top and you should be back to the trailhead within four hours.
This route starts at 5482 feet above sea level and ends at 8258 feet.
This hike is all about getting to the top. Once you're there, you'll find beautiful 360° views.
The nearest water sources are the Pioneer Lakes which are 2.5 miles from the cabin.
Plan on carrying all of the water you'll need on this hike.
This hike is short, but you'll work up an appetite. Bring a snack.
Well maintained and easy to find trail, but narrow and lined with tall brush for much of the track. Mostly dirt, but it transitions to gravel two miles in. Then with a 1/2 mile left, transitions to ATV with large rock.
Only bring your dog if you're able to carry enough water for them.
Parts of storm castle road are lined with unavoidable potholes. It's passable, but rough.
The parking lot is small and this hike shares a trailhead with the popular Storm Castle Trail. Plan on getting there early to find a spot or you'll end up parking in the bushes on the side of the road.
There are lots of popular hikes nearby. The trailhead will feel busy, but most of that traffic will be headed up Storm Castle.
You'll be exposed to the sun on this hike, so dress accordingly. Consider bringing layers for changing conditions at the top.
Tennis shoes are OK on this hike.
There might be a few flies and mosquitoes buzzing around, but you'll be alright if you leave your bug spray at home.
The beginning of the hike has nice shade. Halfway through you'll encounter some open meadows, and the destination is completely exposed.
No Service until you get to the top, then you'll get a couple of Verizon bars.
The fire lookout can be rented as a Forest Service Rental Cabin, otherwise, there's plenty of meadow tent spots off the trail.
Gallatin Riverside Trail
Shortly after the Garnet trailhead, veer right to stay on the GRT. This trail offers lots of excellent access to the Gallatin River and provides great fishing opportunity.
Pioneer Lakes Trail
Roughly 1/2 mile before the lookout, take a right to head towards Pioneer Lakes and an elaborate network of trails between Storm Castle and Swan Creek.
After heading on Pioneer Lakes trail for 1/4 mile, veer left to get on Rat Lake Trail.