This trail traces a crease in the Bridger Mountains, climbs uphill through enormous patches of glacier lilies (in the spring), and rarely strays out of earshot of the stream. Several stream crossings have rudimentary bridges in place while others call for minor gymnastic moves, so you may want to pack a hiking stick and leave the shorter-legged Fidos at home. A Bozeman favorite for its proximity to town, the ultimate destination of this nine-mile trek is Saddle Peak (9,200 ft), the third highest point in the Bridgers.
If you're looking for... just another version of the western Bridgers wonderful, we'd strongly urge you toward the less trammeled North Cottonwood Creek trail (#545).
Distance: 2.4 miles (out-and-back)
Elevation gain: 500 feet
Seasons: mid-May (depending on spring conditions) through early October
Trail(s) used: Hyalite Creek - 427; East Fork of Hyalite Creek - 434
Map of trailhead:
View Middle Cottonwood Creek trailhead in a larger map