Garnet Mountain

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Trail Distance: 3.5 miles
Time Estimate: 6 hr 40 min +
Elevation Gain: 2800 feet
Leash Rule: On & Off Leash
Difficulty: Hard
Parking: Free
Route Type: Out-and-back
Restroom: No
Description
The rugged Garnet Mountain Trail outside of Bozeman, Montana, requires a steep ascent that makes it a better choice for only the most experienced four-legged and two-legged hikers. The rewards of taking the challenge are many, not least of which is the Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout at the end of the trail. You can get in touch with your inner Kerouac here—this imposing building not only yields great panoramic views of the surrounding peaks from its wraparound deck, but can even be rented through the Forest Service. Though the Forest Service advises that dogs are "not recommended," they are allowed to stay with you as long as you pack out all of their waste. There is no running water at the fire tower, but there is a wood stove, a vault toilet outside, and bunk beds with mattresses. It's a perfect place to write and contemplate after enjoying a rigorous hike to the peak. 

There are plenty of reasons to hike to Garnet Mountain even if you're not looking to stay overnight at the fire lookout. This high altitude trail roams through many alpine meadows where you will enjoy spectacular views of pristine mountain peaks. The forests that carpet the hillsides are dominated by pine trees, giving the air fresh mountain scents that you and your dog will both enjoy. Mountains fold into each other as far as the eye can see and the meadows fill with wildflowers in the spring. Among the wildlife that call the area home are grizzly bears, mountain lions, Canada lynx, gray wolves, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, and many different species of birds including grouse. Though you're allowed to let your dog off leash on certain parts of the trail, it's a good idea to keep them leashed for their safety and out of respect for the local wildlife.

To start your hike, drive to the Storm Castle Peak Trailhead on Storm Castle Road. The Garnet Mountain Trail begins across the street. Parking is limited, but free. The steep single track trail is 3.5 miles each way. An alternate route is available: you can start at the Rat Lake trailhead a little further east for a four-mile hike along a double track fire road that is slightly less steep. Be sure to consult updated trail maps or a local ranger to make sure you've planned a manageable route.

However you get there, and however long you stay, you're sure to enjoy taking in the wild mountain air at Garnet Peak with your favorite four-legged companion.

Trail Features
Forest, Mountains, Steep Inclines
Abundant Wildlife, Wildflowers, Scenic
Cautions & Considerations
Water is not available along the trail for most of the hike, or at the fire tower. You will need to pack enough water for both you and your dog. You will also need to be "bear aware" on this trail. The trail is typically covered in snow from November through May.
Address
Storm Castle Peak Trailhead, Storm Castle Rd
Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours
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Address
Storm Castle Peak Trailhead, Storm Castle Rd
Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours