Though you probably won’t read this in any guidebooks, Hyalite Creek is something of a local drama queen. She’s tall and beautiful, presents lovely waterfalls at many points, has summits all around, and is among the most popular places around. Hyalite Creek even gets pressure in winters—where she can be deadly—as climbers scurry up ice and mixed routes all over the U-shaped canyon. At 5.5 miles one-way with 2,000 feet of gain to Hyalite Lake, this hike’s a full meal of a hike, and bringing along a picnic is a top-notch idea.
Hyalite Canyon garners all the chatter with its wispy waterfalls and winter ice-climbing, but the East Fork of Hyalite Creek offers an almost mirrored setting, replete with an enchanting small lake surrounded by a steep-walled basin. Though the preferred of the two upper Hyalite drainages for mountain bikers, the East Fork is significantly less populous, and on hot days, Emerald Lake at the top of the East Fork is a perfect place for a backcountry swim.
If you’re looking for... an aerie, there’s a whole cluster of summits in the Hyalite Group. Mount Chisholm and Mount Bole are listed as the highest summits (both at 10,333, but I don’t believe in ties), but Hyalite Peak (10,299) is a walk-up or a launching point for a multi-day adventure along the Gallatin Crest.
Distance: Hyalite Creek - 11 miles (out-and-back); East Fork of Hyalite Creek - 10 miles (out-and-back)
Elevation gain: ~2,000 feet for both
Seasons: mid-June through early October, depending on the snow
Trail(s) used: Hyalite Creek - 427; East Fork of Hyalite Creek - 434
Map of trailhead:
View Hyalite Creek trailhead / East Fork of Hyalite Creek trailhead in a larger map
Date: 16-Dec-2013 Time: 13:00
Trail is fairly packed until shortly past Arch Falls, thanks to the ice climbers who were there last week. After that, you'll start to wish you had snowshoes or skis instead of grippers. We met multiple ice climbers, one of whom said Hyalite ice is "rad" and "awesome" compared to Colorado.
Date: 27-Jul-2013 Time: 0:00
Curious about the # of down trees across this trail (Hyalite Creek / Hyalite Lake). We were there two weeks ago, and there were several. We're thinking about doing some trail clearing but don't want to bring the saw unless we know the trail still needs clearing.
Date: 13-Jul-2013 Time: 20:00
In response to the post by das kind: I agree with Outside Bozeman's inclusion of this trail on its "Best of" list. I guess it depends on what you are looking for. This trail has fun, technical climbing and descending. It's probably best suited for a bike with at least 4" of full suspension. 6" might be ideal. Pretty much uphill the whole way up (including steep uphills with rocks and roots). I also agree with das kind's assessment that the trail can be crowded and that bikers need to keep speed under control. (Sorry about the sideways pic; it's right side up on my computer. Don't see where to change the orientation on Beta Scout).