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Level: Intermediate
Length: 10 mi (16.1 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: -
Total: 43 riders

Mountain Biking Emerald Lake

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#14 of 265 mountain bike trails in Montana
#1,419 in the world

Some consider this the best ride in Montana. There is a stiff, 2k ft climb to a gorgeous high alpine lake. Ofcourse, this makes for a killer downhill on the return. You can continue beyond Emerald Lake to Heather lake for an additional mile, but the best of the singletrack is already behind you at this point. This is a popular trail with hikers and equestrians, so going on a weekday is best (all those other trail users will break your flow on the plummet back to your vehicle). The bottom of the "singletrack" is pretty wide. Only this, plus the relatively short length (<5mi each way) keep this from being a 5-star in my book.

First added by John Fisch on Oct 7, 2007. Last updated Apr 30, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From Bozeman, drive south on 19th, turn left on Hyalite Canyon Road, follow this past the reservoir, go left at the split, and continue on until the road ends at the trailhead.
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Emerald Lake Trail map

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Trail checkins

John Fisch (on Sep 19, 2015)
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Trail conditions

Wet (on Jul 7, 2017)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Bozeman, Montana

Intermediate | 6 mi
Easiest | 2 mi
| 10 mi
Intermediate | 18 mi

Rider questions

Q: Are motorbikes allowed

Q: What days can you ride it

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  • JWanamaker

    Rode this trail for the first time 8/14/15 and it quickly went toward the top of my list of best rides! Around 10 mi. out and back, it is a fun mildly strenuous up and a little down the first half and becomes nearly all up the second half. A lung buster for a low-lander like myself, but so worth the effort once you get the the pristine alpine basin lake at the top. Give yourself time to enjoy the scenery at the top and along the way. Coming back out, you really reap the fruit of your labor with a fast, fun downhill.Can't wait to roll back through Bozeman and do it again!

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  • Kirkwood Paul Donavin

    This seemed like a great trail. That is, it weren't littered with downed trees to surmount and snow fields galore after 1.5 miles or so. I went in early June. I recommend waiting until July at least. When does the forest service clear this trail?

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  • abegold

    ATV route about 5' wide. Expect hikers and ATV's on the trail. It's all up hill for 5 miles to the beautiful alpine lake. The trail continues uphill to another lake but was too wet when there to ride without damaging the trail. Fun run down.

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  • barc2703

    Spectacular trail, the Views, the Flow, the climb. All combine to make this an exceptional trail. I stopped as i was traveling through the area and had no trouble finding the trail head.

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  • skibikejunkie

    Awesome trail. Kind of a dick dance to get to (20+ miles from Bozeman), so not something you can ride every day, but definitely worth it. I was passing through town, had time for one ride, and glad I chose this one. I'll go out of my way to ride it again next time.

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  • harryhoodlum

    Good reviews by others. Don't be fooled by short distance. There is very little fast uphill riding on this trail. After first 3/4 mile the trail has many obstacles and climbing... all rideable but must be experienced rider. Downhill is fun though rough... I ride a full suspension 5" travel bike. Still get hammered by obstacles... but I'm old.

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  • shatogar

    This is an excellent trail all around. The scenery is amazing and the downhill is very rewarding after a difficult climb. There are many rocks and roots and a couple of shallow streams along the way. After a rain there can be some deep puddles. I was suprised by a puddle that nearly submerged my front brake and caked me with mud. I will certainly be returning to this trail. Note: The trail is closed to bikes on Fridays.

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  • wpernett

    This was a pretty good drive west from Bozeman into the National Forest. Once I made it to the trail head I noticed a lot of hikers headed up the trail...Bad for an MTBer. The accent up the trail was rocky and had a few roots, but nothing technical. The views were awsome. I had to bike hike over some dead fall trees near the top. I rode this in July and there were still some snow patches that I had to traverse. There is a cool stream crossing and the reward is the views at Emerald Lake and the bombing downhill return. I did get slowed on the return by hikers and loose dogs. I noticed people in Montana don't tend to keep their dogs on leashes. I highly recommend the ride, but like the last review go on a week day when the hiking traffic is light.

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