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Hiking Under the Big Sky

May 20, 2022
We’ve reached our favorite time of year for hiking, the temperatures are slightly cooler than July, huckleberries are in full swing, and we’re heading into the magical season of fall. We still have weeks of exploring ahead of us. The mountains surrounding Rainbow Ranch Lodge provide miles and miles of trails; to lakes, waterfalls, and incredible vistas. Whether you’re looking for a short, easy hike, or a full day’s excursion, there are options for all ages and abilities. We’ve compiled a few of our favorites, but by no means is this an exhaustive list. It would take a lifetime to cover all the beautiful trails in this neck of the woods!

Lemonknob Loop

This trail is named after the Lemon family, early settlers in Gallatin Canyon, who purchased Twin Cabins Camp where Rainbow Ranch now sits. This is a great hike to take straight from the ranch. The loop is 3.7 miles round trip and is considered moderate intensity. When you reach the saddle where it merges with Porcupine Creek Trail, veer left, and it will take you to Lemon’s Knob, where you’ll have 360-degree views of Gallatin Canyon and the Gallatin River.

Ousel Falls

One of the most popular hikes in Big Sky, Ousel Falls is a picturesque hike to beautiful waterfalls. The 1.6-mile out-and-back trail is suitable for all skill levels, and the trailhead is close to Big Sky Town Center. This hike is equally impressive in the winter and is one of the few accessible trails year-round.

Lava Lake

Another iconic Big Sky hike, this trail takes you along Cascade Creek to Lava Lake. It’s a six-mile round trip hike, which generally takes about 3.5 hours, but it’s not hard and has a gentle incline. The lake is forest-lined and surrounded by rock walls, a perfect place for a picnic lunch. You certainly can jump in the water, but keep in mind, it’s an alpine lake, so be prepared to be chilly!

Beehive Basin

This is another 6.6-mile, round-trip hike through wildflower meadows, tall forests, and past bubbling creeks with views of Lone Mountain along the way. Once you reach the actual Beehive Basin, you’ll see a crystal-clear lake overlooking Lone Peak. Ambitious hikers can scramble up the rocks to the top of the basin for even more views. In the fall, you’ll have ample opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Keep in mind; the sun is intense at high elevations. Always wear sunscreen, lip protection, and a hat. Bring layers, afternoon showers are frequent, and weather can change quickly. Be sure to bring snacks, water, and bear spray.