The Gallatin National Forest encompasses nearly two million acres of land in south-central Montana, and dogs are allowed on its trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds. If you're looking for an easy path to complete with your dog near Bozeman, give the Gallatin Riverside Trail a try! This five-mile or so out-and-back hike can be completed in under three hours. You'll find parking at both the Lava Lake Trailhead and the trailhead on Storm Castle Rd.
This beautiful trail follows the eastern bank of the Gallatin River. On your trek, you'll cross a few small streams, and you'll also see kayakers and rafters often. Several spots along the river make prime fishing locations, so bring your fishing gear if that interests you. If you'd like to make this hike a one-way trip, you can park a car at the Lava Lake trailhead. Otherwise, most hikers begin and end their hike from the other side.
Along the path, you'll see looming cliffs overhead, interesting plant and wildlife species, and lovely open spaces in addition to the dense forest you'll cross through. Hikers love that they can experience all the forest has to offer on this route without the extreme exertion required on other walks. You'll pass a few small bridges during your hike, and there are signs you can follow to a lookout tower if you'd like to make your trip a bit longer.
During the summer, you'll often see dogs cooling off in the creeks and river along the trail, and there are open meadows where hikers like to stop for lunch. Pack plenty of water and doggie bags for your visit, and always clean up after your pet.
When you're hiking any trail in Montana, you are strongly encouraged to carry bear spray and practice other bear safety methods.
The Gallatin Riverside Trail is a furrific way to spend a few hours in the outdoors with your four-legged friend!