Learning how to mountain bike can be intimidating. That is why it is important to start on a trail that won’t feel overwhelming. Luckily, Bozeman has several great options for new riders where they can learn the basics and get a feel for their bike without having to worry about technical sections, difficult climbs, or high-speed descents.
In this post, we will rank the trails on a scale of 1-10, 1 being easiest and 10 being very technical and challenging.
#5 Crosscut Mountain Sports Center
Trail Difficulty: 5/10
Photo credit: https://www.crosscutmt.org/
Crosscut Mountain Sports Center is a beginner-friendly trail system located in the Bridger Range. When considering the difficulty level of the Crosscut trails, we would rank the trails a 5 out of 10. The trails at Crosscut are a different style of riding than pretty much anywhere else in Bozeman.
Crosscut Mountain Sports Center has more cross-country-style trails, which means there are fewer steep climbs and descents than some of the other trails in Bozeman. Crosscut is a great place to learn how to navigate through the trees and dodge small obstacles like roots and rocks.
#4 Triple Tree Trail
Trail Difficulty: 5/10
Photo credit: https://outsidebozeman.com/trails-tours/hiking-trails/triple-tree-trail
We rank Triple Tree a 5 out of 10 due to the fact that it has a steady climb and fun, flowy downhill. Triple Tree trail can be accessed from town or by parking in the lot off of Sourdough Road. The loop will take you just over five miles if you start from the lower trailhead.
From the parking lot off of Sourdough Road, you will climb through the meadow, into the trees, and up the switchbacks. Once you reach the top, you will have a scenic view of the Bridger Range and the valley below. Take a moment to sit on the bench and take in the view before your fun descent.
Be sure to continue the loop and not just turn around on the trail, as this section of the trail is directional. Take the downhill as fast as you’re comfortable, knowing you’ll find some banked turns and a few small jumps at the bottom of the run, which you can roll if you just use your brakes. Make some noise on your way down to alert hikers that you are coming. From there, you’ll be back on the main trail and on your way home.
#3 Sourdough Canyon
Trail Difficulty: 3/10
Another beginner-friendly trail is Sourdough Canyon. You will snake your way up the canyon on a scenic double track. There are rocks on the trail, and it is a consistent climb all the way up to Mystic Lake.
It is a good idea to bring bear spray in this area, as there have been incidents in the past. Also, keep your eyes open for moose and deer. We rank this trail a 3 out of 10 on our trail hardness rating. This trail is an out and back, and if you make it to the lake, it is a 20-mile ride. Don’t forget that the way down will be considerably faster than the way up.
#2 Sunset Hills, Hyland Glenn, Painted Hills
Trail Difficulty: 3/10
Photo credit: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/montana/painted-hills-trail
Bozeman’s most beginner-friendly and accessible trail system is located right in the center of town. It is a combination of trails starting at Sunset Hills across from the Bozeman hospital, moving across Hyland Boulevard to Hyland Glenn, and later across Kagy Boulevard to Painted Hills.
These trails as a collective would rank a 3 out of 10 on our difficulty scale. The system is smooth, clear of technical obstacles, and relatively flat for this part of Montana. If you ride the whole system as an out and back, you can squeak out over 15 miles. Painted Hills ends at the trailhead for Triple Tree, which is #4 on our list!
#1 Mountains to Main Street
Trail Difficulty: 1/10
Photo credit: https://outsidebozeman.com/activities/hiking/town-trails
If you’re new to Bozeman, or you’ve never been single-track mountain biking in Montana before, it may be a good idea to start out on the GVLT Mountains to Main Street Trail System. You can pick up a GVLT Map for $5 in our shop.
Mountains to Main Street is a system of flat gravel trails that wind their way through the valley. The gravel roads’ level gradient and subtle nature give this trail a 1 out of 10 rating in terms of difficulty. We suggest starting at Owenhouse Cycling and heading north to check out the Story Mill district, grab a beer at MAP brewing, or bike up to the M. Otherwise, head south of town through residential neighborhoods or pedal along Bozeman Creek.
Bozeman, MT has a variety of great trails for the beginner mountain biker
Picking the right trail as a beginner rider is essential to guarantee a fun and injury-free experience mountain biking in Bozeman. We never want to send you out on a trail where you might feel scared, unsafe, or underprepared. If you need a rental bike or have more questions regarding the local trails, feel free to give us a call or come into the shop. We’d be more than happy to help you find the trail that suits your needs.