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Gallatin Crest Trail

Difficult
 5.0 (4) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Epic views of the Gallatin and Paradise valleys from the spine of the "Devil's Backbone."


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Map Key

23.7

Miles

38.1

KM

89%

Runnable

10,212' 3,113 m

High

8,792' 2,680 m

Low

5,046' 1,538 m

Up

3,626' 1,105 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

22%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

One of, if not the finest high routes in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem the Gallatin Divide is a high, singletrack route that traverses the entirety of the Gallatin Mountain Range. Multiple start and end locations exist providing for many options and making it repeatable as a future run.

It is hard work running from the valley floor to the ridge top but once there a runner will find themselves staying up high and drinking in the far-stretching views across Yellowstone, the Absaroka-Beartooths, the Madison Range, the Bridgers, the Crazies, the Tobacco Roots, the Belts, and more.

The intrepid sustainability enthusiast can link up a ride on the Big Sky bus and the use of a bicycle to make for a low carbon footprint trip.

Need to Know

Depending on snow availability for melting there is little water on the divide proper. Runners must drop down slightly into side drainages to keep themselves properly hydrated.

Runner Notes

Part of this route is home to the Devil's Backbone 50-miler.

Description

Multiple entrances to this run exist and it can be done in either a North to South or reverse direction. Trailheads at Buffalo Horn and Portal Creek on the West are good starting points as is Tom Miner Basin from the East. Hyalite on the North End is a great place to leave a car for a Northern-terminus ending.

The access trails from the valleys are generally in good shape - some seeing lots of horse traffic. But once on the Ridge a keen eye is required to stay on track. The trail tread comes and goes but with a modicum of attention paid to cairns, cut logs, and trail tread the route is mostly obvious as it meanders along the ridge of the Gallatin Mountains.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers will paint the hills in all directions as the snow melts from the hills, revealing Spring in all its glory.

History & Background

This trail was formerly popular with motorbikes and mountain bikers until the area became designated as a Wilderness Study Area in the early part of the 21st century. It has been popular for many years with runners, equestrian users, cyclists, and even the occasional backcountry skier.

Contacts

Shared By:

Sam H

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 4 votes

#772

Overall
  5.0 from 4 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#19

in Montana

#772

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188 Views Last Month
10,826 Since Apr 22, 2015
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Photos

The Gallatin Mountain Range from the Gallatin Divide
Apr 22, 2015 near Big Sky, MT
Overlooking Paradise Valley.
Apr 22, 2015 near Big Sky, MT
Deer on the Gallatin Crest Trail
Apr 22, 2015 near Big Sky, MT
Approaching The Sentinal.
Apr 22, 2015 near Big Sky, MT

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Jun 26, 2019
Knotty Tufa
Jul 28, 2016
Stacie Bruno
23.7mi — 6h 00m