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Location: Trailhead located at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center, 4 miles east of Bozeman, Montana along Bridger Canyon Road 86.
From Main Street in downtown Bozeman, head north on North Rouse Avenue (State Route 86), 4.1 miles to the signed Bozeman Fish Technology Center access road on the right. The trailhead parking lot is to the left (north) of the access road approximately 200 feet east of the access road junction with Bridger Canyon Road. The trail begins on the south side of the access road directly across from the parking area.
Look left as you drive out of Bridger Canyon and you’ll see a mountain shaped like a horse drinking from a creek. When the owners called us and said they wanted to donate this property, we knew we had an opportunity to create something special. Adjacent to land owned by the United States Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), with an ascent that offers spectacular views in four directions, the parcel was perfectly positioned for a new trail. GVLT helped facilitate the donation of the land to USFWS and raised money from the community to create two routes the top and install the locally-designed Kevin Mundy Memorial Bridge, named for a local ski patroller.
All told, it took GVLT and our partners eight years to permit, design, fund, and construct the Drinking Horse Mountain trail, but it was well worth the wait. Families with young children enjoy the short trek to the bright-orange bridge. Designed with seating so it can serve as an outdoor classroom, the structure makes the perfect creek-side picnic spot. Stronger hikers can continue up the trail — 700 vertical feet up, to be exact — for a show-stopping view into Bridger Canyon and back across the valley.
The Drinking Horse Mountain Trail is one of the most popular trails in the Gallatin Valley thanks to its location within a 5 minute drive of downtown Bozeman, its easy access and the high quality experience it provides in a conveniently moderate distance.
From willows and cottonwoods along Bridger Creek, to rocky outcrops, evergreen forest, and wildflower decorated hillsides, the Drinking Horse Mountain Trail offers great variety in a 2.2 mile figure-eight loop. The variety of vegetation provides a great opportunity for wildlife viewing, bird watching, and the study of nature. The figure-eight trail design has a steep route for those who desire more intense aerobic exercise and an easier path for those who seek a leisurely stroll. Dogs often bring their best human friends for some exercise and are pleased to find two dog sanitation stations for their convenience and plenty of cold water to drink in Bridger Creek.
Two information kiosks are located along the trail to provide etiquette information and maps to help orient new users to the trail. Eight memorial benches and one picnic table made from recycled plastic are located along the trail and offer a well deserved respite with spectacular views of the Gallatin Valley, Bridger Canyon, and surrounding mountain ranges.
The Drinking Horse Mountain Trail provides an alternative destination to the popular and often crowded “Foothills” and “M” trails which are administered by the U.S. Forest Service and located directly across Bridger Canyon Road. Parking at the trailhead for these trails often overflows onto the road and one of the goals of creating the Drinking Horse Mountain Trail was to spread out this heavy use.
Width: 48 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Asphalt
Average Grade: 10%
Maximum Grade: 30%
Elevation Low Point: 4,840
Elevation High Point: 5,539
Elevation Gain (cumulative): 741 feet
Year Designated: 2010
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsWebsite: Outside Bozeman Trail Information
Website: Gallatin Valley Land Trust
Website: American Trails Featured NRT
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Director of the Bozeman Fish Technology Center
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4050 Bridger Canyon Road
Bozeman, MT 59715
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