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What to expect

Montana has 1876 trails including medium, extra difficult, difficult, and easy trails. The trail with the highest elevation climb is the Duck Creek Loop and the one with the least climb is the Lake Fork Trail. The longest trail is American Perimeter Trail - Rocky Mountains Primary at 3290 km. To complete this hike you should budget at least 180 days. For a shorter adventure, you can try the Walk to Start of the Missouri River a t 204 m. This could be done in as little as 1 days. Trails with the best offering of hostels include Upper East Side Piquett Trail, Woods Gulch Out and Back, AJ Hoyt Memorial Trail, Glacier Creek Trail, and Sage Creek Trail - Gallatin Road.

Guide to hiking in Montana

Be prepared for hiking in Montana with the HiiKER app

FAQs about hiking in Montana

What is the climate like for hiking in Montana?

With Montana's continental climate, the summer season, from June to September, offers the most comfortable hiking conditions. The weather is typically warm and sunny, making trails in areas like Glacier National Park particularly inviting. However, afternoon thunderstorms are common, so hikers should be prepared.
Autumn, from September to November, showcases vibrant fall colors, with milder temperatures ideal for hiking. Winter, though, is severe, with heavy snowfall limiting access to many trails. Spring can be unpredictable, with lingering snow and wet conditions in many areas, delaying the hiking season.
Therefore, the best time to hike in Montana is generally summer, particularly in July and August. Hikers should always check weather conditions and trail status ahead of time, using resources like the Montana Wilderness Association (https://wildmontana.org/discover-the-wild/hike-wild-montana) for detailed information.


Do I need a permit to hike in Montana?

Hiking in Montana often doesn't require permits, but certain areas like Glacier National Park require them for backcountry camping. Check specifics with relevant park services or on the official U.S. National Park Service website (https://www.nps.gov/index.htm) to ensure adherence to local rules and regulations.


Is wild camping allowed in Montana?

Wild camping in Montana's national forests is generally permitted, subject to specific rules and restrictions. It's recommended to verify local regulations via the U.S. Forest Service website (https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/superior/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=36905&actid=34). Always follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural environment.


Are there mountain rescue services in Montana?

In case of an emergency while hiking in Montana, contact local authorities by dialing 911. The county sheriff's office typically coordinates search and rescue efforts. Hikers can also refer to the Mountain Rescue Association's website (https://mra.org/) for additional resources and safety information.


Are there dangerous plants in Montana?

Montana's trails take hikers through diverse ecosystems, from grasslands to alpine meadows, populated by prairie flowers, Ponderosa pines, and western larch. Hikers should be aware of poison ivy in lower altitudes. More information can be found on the Montana Field Guide website (http://fieldguide.mt.gov/).


What wildlife should I be aware of when hiking in Montana?

Hikers in Montana may encounter diverse wildlife such as elk, moose, bears, and mosquitoes. It's crucial to keep a safe distance from large mammals and carry bear spray when in bear country. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website (http://fwp.mt.gov/) offers detailed wildlife encounter guidelines.