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Level: Intermediate
Length: 12 mi (19.3 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: +233/ -234 ft
Total: 39 riders

Mountain Biking South Cottonwood

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#19 of 265 mountain bike trails in Montana
#1,896 in the world

This is most often done as a simple out-and-back up South Cottonwood Canyon. The first 2.5 miles is suitable for novices (although the first pitch out of the parking lot will stress the unfit). The next 3.5 miles throws a few more challenges at you. After that, there's some loop options that require huge lungs and huge commitment. The Bozeman Area map from Big Sky Pulbishing shows this area very well.

First added by John Fisch on Aug 27, 2012. Last updated Apr 28, 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
Head South out of Bozeman on 19th Avenue. It will curve left and run into a tee. Go left (south again) at the T and follow the road around some tight curves, looking for a sign to the South Cottonwood trail. Turn left at the sign and follow the road to the trailhead.
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South Cottonwood Trail map

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Local Info

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Paddy Stoy (on Sep 15, 2019)
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Trail conditions

Dry (on Jun 17, 2019)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Bozeman, Montana

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

Rider questions

Q: How far to the third bridge

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  • Hap Proctor   ✓ supporter

    Should be the first trail ridden in Bozeman area. After the immediate climb out of the parking lot the trail is a nice ride along the creek with several crossings. The trail progressively becomes tougher as you ride. The first 2 miles are easy and the next 3-4 miles require more intermediate. skills. Advance riders can continue and loop in to other trails or you can turn around for a 10-12 mile ride. Great trail to start if you are unaccustomed to high elevation riding. Beautiful scenery.

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  • Timothyfluegge

    Rode this trail on May 15, 2012. It wasn't in the singletracks.com database yet; I tracked it down elsewhere. My experience was not the greatest but only because I encountered lots of deadfall and snowpack that diminished my enjoyment of the ride. When the snow dries up off the trail and the fallen trees are cleared away, this trail must be awesome. I do remember a nice little climb out of the parking lot, as well as cute little climbs out of each creek crossing. Most of the track was smooth with the occasional rock garden, etc. There are a few stretches of smooth benchcut narrow singletrack with blind corners and exposure high above the creek bed; be careful! I eventually turned back because of the aforementioned snowpack/deadfall but I thoroughly enjoyed the 10-12 miles of out and back riding. It was some of the most beautiful scenery of any trail I've ever done...and I've ridden a lot of places.

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  • John Fisch

    This trail is one of those rare gems that is suitable for a beginner, but entertaining for a more advanced rider. Anybody can simply rurn around when they reach their limit based on physical and/or technical requirements as both seem to ramp up at about the same rate. The woods are beautiful and dense and the trail stays close to the creek, making this a great ride close to town on a hot day. It's a green circle for the first 2.5 miles, then blue for the next 3.5, and black after that, no matter what route you choose at that point.

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