(Just to keep you on your toes, please note that Middle Cottonwood and South Cottonwood trailhead listed in this guide are in Bridger Range and Gallatin Range, respectively.)
South Cottonwood, located in the Gallatins and south of town, is a well traveled trail by several distinct user groups—families, trail runners, mountain bikers, and people with dogs, primarily—because the grade is not overwhelming; there’s plenty of available water and shade, and as an out-and-back, the trail offers lots of mileage and, ultimately, good elevation gain into the upper reaches of the Hyalite formation. This one’s good through much of the warm season, but it’s a standout as a near-town hike on a hot day.
If you're looking for... MORE POWER, you can continue up South Cottonwood past the fork to History Rock and eventually reaching the shoulder of Mount Blackmore, or follow the History Rock trail (#424) up and into the Hyalite drainage.
Distance: 12 miles (out-and-back)
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Seasons: May through October
Trail(s) used: 422
Map of trailhead:
View South Cottonwood Creek trailhead in a larger map