The Hyalite Lake trail is located just south of Bozeman and starts near the Hyalite reservoir.
The first four miles of the trail leads you through the thick pine forests of Hyalite Canyon. The lack of mountain views through the trees is easily made up for with the 10 unique waterfalls you’ll be passing along the way. The last mile of the hike will start to get a bit steeper, but will allow you to get an impressive view of the u-shaped, glacially carved canyon. Once you’re at the top you will see Hyalite Lake surrounded by rocky mountain peaks.
This magical hike is bound to become a favorite in the Gallatin Range.
From Bozeman, drive South on 19th Street for about 5 miles. Follow the curve to the right and drive for another mile or so, following the signs to take a left onto Hyalite Canyon Road.
Follow Hyalite Canyon Road up to the reservoir. Take it across the dam and keep right onto the gravel. Continue on the road along the East side of the reservoir, staying right until it dead ends at the Hyalite Lake Trailhead.
Be Advised: Hyalite Canyon Road is closed annually between April 1st and May 15th. You will not be able to reach this hike by car during this time.
This hike will be challenging due to the long distance. The elevation gain is steady and there's only about a mile of steep hiking as you approach the lake.
If you're able to average roughly 1.5 mph on the hike, you'll be able to make it up and back to your car within 8 hours. Be sure to plan some extra time for viewing and photographing the many waterfalls.
The beautiful waterfalls and canyon views leading to the top can make the final destination a little underwhelming. The lake itself is pretty, but small and shallow, so leave your fishing pole at home.
The hike runs along Hyalite Creek and ends at a lake. There are nonstop opportunities to purify water.
Though not overly strenuous, you'll be on the trail all day. Pack a full meal to eat at the top as well as snacks to munch along the way.
This trail is heavily used, well worn, and easy to find.
Expect snow on the trail all the way into July and again in late September.
There is plenty of shade and water along the entire hike— this is a great trail for your pooch if it has the endurance.
The road up to Hyalite is windy and slow, but paved and in great condition. Once you cross the dam the dirt road begins. It's bumpy and narrow, but is passable with a car.
Beartooth Publishing's Bozeman Area Map includes this trail all the way to the lake.
There is a large gravel parking lot at the trailhead.
There's a vault toilet near the trailhead sign.
All hikes near the reservoir see a lot of foot traffic, but due to its length, this one never gets too crowded.
The hike is mostly shaded, so in cooler months (May, September, Oct.) you will want long pants and a warm layer (sweater, jacket). In warmer weather you will be able to enjoy nice long breaks from the sun. If you’re planning on spending some time at the lakes there is little to no cover, so you will want sunscreen.
Footwear: Tennis Shoes OK
Hiking boots in the early spring and fall because of snow melt. A comfortable pair of tennis shoes would work in the dryer months, though, there are a few very shallow stream crossings where waterproof boots will keep your feet dry.
The area around the lakes near the top of the hike is wet and has potential for bugs. Bring your spray.
The majority of the hike is in dense trees with lots of shade, however, the basin with the lake has very few trees.
You won't have any phone service on this hike.
This entire hike runs through national forest and there's potential camping spots off of spur trails. There's also some well worn sites near the lake, connections to open up multi-day trip possibilities, as well as developed campgrounds near Hyalite reservior: Chisholm Campground or Hood Creek Campground.
About a mile into the hike you'll see a a sign for a dead-end spur trail that drops 1/2 mile towards Grotto Falls.
Storm Castle Creek
When you're getting close to the lake, instead of taking a left, hang a right onto Storm Castle Creek Trail.
Continuing on from the lake takes you to Hyalite Peak. Expect this to add another 3 hours round trip to the hike.
Past the Peak
Continuing on past Hyalite Peak brings you to a network of trails with lots of options. Loop west to Swan Creek, East to Horseshoe Basin and Fridley Lakes, or South then East towards Big Creek in Paradise Valley.