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Trail Well Traveled – 3/24

Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!

Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give one lucky listener some cool goodies to help them embark on their journey!

North Cottonwood Trail #545-6

Great hike with views during mud season in Bozeman … or for early spring wildflowers!

Roundtrip: 3.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Directions: From Missoula, head east on I-90 to Bozeman – departing the freeway at Exit 305. At the bottom of the off-ramp, turn left (north) onto N 19th Ave and follow it just a quick jaunt around a curve to its T-intersection with Springhill Road.

Turn right and drive 12.4 miles, about a mile past the point where the road turns to gravel and past Mile Marker 16.  At the top of a long hill, look for the parking area on the right, surrounded by a jackleg fence.

What to expect: The first section of the Bridger Mountains trail gets full afternoon sun, which means it stays dry during mud season (November, March and April). Also, the spring wildflowers bloom earlier here than many other places (usually May, but sometimes as early as April).

The first mile crosses private property through a rocky cow pasture and over a few small creeks that might be a challenge to jump over after heavy storms. Head past – but not through – a green gate, then take the switchbacks up the hillside to enter the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. From the switchbacks, there are views of the Spanish Peaks, Tobacco Roots, and Horseshoe Hills.

Tip: Once the trail starts to run along the north side of the hill through some rocky areas, more snow is apt to accumulate, so turn around here in winter.

Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at

And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:50 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!

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