Madison River Trail

Madison County, Montana 59729

Elevation Gain104ft
Trailhead Elevation4,943ft
Elevation Min/Max4937/5033ft
Elevation Start/End4943/4943ft

Madison River Trail

Madison River Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Madison County, Montana. It is 3.4 miles long and begins at 4,943 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 104 feet.

Madison River Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The Madison is, in many people’s opinion, Montana’s river of superlatives, with a list including highest trout density, most consistent action, best dry fly fishing, and the most spectacular scenery.

Not surprisingly, this southwestern Montana jewel is also the second most heavily used river fishery in the state, growing more popular annually. Key species: Rainbow trout, brown trout, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, whitefish, and Arctic grayling."

"Close your eyes. Think of a broad trout river chattering down a wide valley between fields of sage. That’s the Madison. You know several Madison Rivers. There’s the section in Yellowstone National Park, sired by a pair of wonderful trout streams—the Gibbon and the Firehole and the mileage between the park and Hebgen Lake. There are the waters of Hebgen and Quake Lakes, and the 50-mile run down to Ennis. And there’s a warmer stretch of about 30 miles from Ennis to the junction with the Jefferson which forms the Missouri just above Trident.

When the river slows, occasional gravel islands appear, but you wouldn’t call the channel at all braided. Patches of cottonwood and brush occasionally line the river, but you’ll find little structure from submerged logs. The utter consistency of this stretch, easy wading, agreeable browns and rainbows, and more than a dozen points for public access make this wonderful water for a beginning angler. Species: Brown, rainbow. Angling methods: spin, and fly-fishing."

"Upon exiting the park, the Madison River enters the 13-mile Hebgen Lake which offers anglers a shot at the infamous gulpers—large cruising trout that readily feed on dry flies with a gluttonous, audible gulp. The Madison then thunders out of Hebgen Lake in a two-mile dash before it flows into Quake Lake. As its name implies, Quake Lake was formed during a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in 1959.

A mountain collapsed dropping 80 million tons of rubble on the Madison River and adjacent campground, tragically killing 26 people. Types of Fish: Brown and Rainbow Trout, Whitefish. This fly-fishing chapter describes the "where, when, and how" for fishing in this area. It includes a full-page map and information on the known hatches, suggested equipment to use, the best flies to use, season, limits, nearby accommodations, and camping."

"This 90-mile drive skirts the folds, crinkles, and arêtes of the high Madison Range and the sparkling waters of the Madison River and nearby lakes. Enjoy this fly-fisher’s paradise, or take a 28-mile side trip and relive Montana’s gold rush in Virginia City, a restored ghost town.

Special attractions: Missouri Headwaters State Park, Lewis and Clark Caverns, Virginia City, Nevada City, Madison River, Quake Lake, Hebgen Lake; camping, boating, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more."

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Trail Information

Madison County
Nearby City
Yellowstone National Park
Local Contacts
Montana DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer
Local Maps