There's two ways to enjoy the scenery along this challenging, steep point-to-point trail. If you want to complete your hike in one day, you can hike from the College M Trailhead to an awaiting shuttle at the Sypes Canyon Trailhead. Instead of hiking the entire Bridger Foothills Trail, you'll hike part of it, then turn onto the Sypes Canyon Trail. From point to point, you'll complete a satisfying, challenging, seven-mile hike.
If you want to complete the entire length of the Bridger Foothills Trail, have a shuttle pick you up or have a car parked at the Fairy Lake Trailhead twenty-two hiking miles away from the College M Trailhead. Pack a tent and plan to camp along the trail if you hike it in its entirety. The Custer Gallatin National Forest allows dispersed camping. Be sure to pack out everything you bring in.
In addition to its sheer length, this trail features significant elevation gain and is best saved for only the most athletic, adventurous hikers. You'll frequently be ascending and descending steep ravines, crossing creeks, and contending with muddy, snowy, or icy conditions on the trail, depending on the time of year. Due to the high elevation, snow can stick to the peaks through the middle of the summer. The trail dries out by mid-July and remains dry throughout the fall, when the changing colors lend a special magic to the hike.
Your reward for hiking the Bridger Foothills Trail, in addition to the pure exhilaration you'll feel at meeting the challenge, will be the breathtaking scenery you'll encounter along the way. As you ascend through forests of tall pine, you'll emerge into high alpine meadows where you're likely to see mountain goats and other wildlife. From the high points, you'll be able to see for miles into the valleys and farmlands beyond.
At the end of the trail, Fairy Lake is indeed a magical sight, an oasis of turquoise waters nestled into a bowl of trees with rocky peaks ascending behind it. When you get there, you'll want to linger as you celebrate your accomplishment with your steadfast companion, who'll probably be ready for a nice long nap.