Bear Canyon Trail

Bozeman, Montana 59717

Bear Canyon Trail

Bear Canyon Trail Professional Review and Guide

"The Bear Canyon Trail follows Bear Creek eight miles up the lush, shady canyon to the Bear Lakes. This hike takes in the first 2.2 miles of the trail, which includes several creek crossings and a one-mile loop.

The trail stays close to the cascading waters of the creek. Beyond this hike, the Bear Canyon Trail climbs 1,400 feet to the Bear Lakes, which sit at an elevation of 6,900 feet."

Bear Canyon Trail Reviews

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We had a bit of trouble with this trail in regards to finding the described layout. It was the last week in May and the snow melt really had the creek overflowing to multiple "finger creeks". We stayed next to the creek almost the whole time, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right. Anyway, we never completed the loop as we never saw any log crossing or wood covered bridge. We ended hiking quite a few miles and about 1500 ft in elevation when we came to a marshy, meadow opening where the creek winded through. All in all there were probably at least 6 creek crossing that were all ankle to knee high but doable (even with a 60-70 pound lab mix...she forged through quite impressively!). Just take some water shoes in order to keep your boots dry. I imagine we may have been well on our way to Bear Lakes which is only a few miles beyond the loop described here. FYI, on our way back it POURED down rain so sound was REALLY dampened...anyway, toward the end of the trail out of nowhere a HUGE mama black bear and her 2 cubs strolled across the creek and over the trail and disappeared up the hill! With my hand on an 8" knife and bear spray in my fiancee's hands it was very, very more than 30 yds away, so make noise, take bear spray and be prepared. We also saw fresh bear tracks and scratchings on trees on another part of the trail. Keep the dog on a leash as GOD knows what could have happened if we had been 20 seconds further up the trail. All in all it was a great hike, beautiful creek(s), tons of pines, a few Aspens sprinkled in and a nice gradual uphill climb that made it physically worthwhile. We saw one person the whole time too, which was a bonus.
This trail is well marked. There is a large parking area. It is uphill all the way but my kids did it when they were 6, 7, and 9. There are a few nice places to camp along the trail if you don't want to go all the way to the lake.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
400 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
2.5 hours
Best May to October
U.S.G.S. Mount Ellis and Bald Knob - U.S.F.S. Gallatin National Forest West Half or East Half - Crystal Bench Maps - Bozeman, Montana
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Jul 2018