Sean Jansen

5 Runs Around Bozeman

Spring is a season of change. Snow typically continues to blanket the alpine environment while the valleys thaw and begin to bloom. Montanans have mixed emotions. Some loath the season for they know their time skiing is coming to an end, while others welcome it with open arms, rejoicing at snow melt and wild flowers. However if there is one constant about the season of spring that need mention, is that it is simply the season leading up to summer. And with summer inching closer and closer, the snow recedes further and further, exposing miles and miles of trail. With that being said, here are my five favorite trails to run in spring, in and around Bozeman.

The College, “M,”

There isn’t an official visit to Bozeman unless one makes the ascent up to the college landmark of the, “M.” Located just off of Rouse Ave., or the Bridger Canyon Road en route to Bridger Bowl ski area, the landmark is hard to miss. With two options of reaching the, “M,” the trail to the right is a strenuous half mile ascent of 700 feet nearly straight up, where as the option to the left is much friendlier and wide open, giving the experience a far more enjoyable one with wildflowers and a few shady sections for those toasty Spring Days.

Buffalo Jump State Park

The name couldn’t be more resemblant of what has happened there in the past. Native Americans once herded bison to the edge of this cliff and forced them off of it to harvest their meet for winter survival months. The state of Montana has made this small cliff face a state park in remembrance of this slaughter and have carved a beautiful set of trails that go to the top of the cliff offering expansive views of the Lower Madison River. Flowers mix with rocks atop the cliffs making the run an enjoyable yet distracting cruise. Don’t let the views shift your focus from your footing, as I would hate to hear about a runner being the latest victim of the gruesome past the bison faced.

Bear Trap Canyon

Easily my favorite run in Southwest Montana. Where else do you get to combine trail running as well as fly fishing in one canyon? The Bear Trap Canyon Trail is roughly six miles from where it starts up to where the dam is from Ennis Lake. Making it a potential 12-mile out and back. However one can simply go a far as they wish and turn around where desired. The trial follows the river along its banks and rarely curves away from it making the trail an incredibly peaceful run to the sounds of footsteps and water. However don’t be like me and try to run while watching trout sip insects from the surface. You will likely face plant and fall head first into the river.

Missouri Headwaters State Park

Famous from the history of Lewis and Clark led by Sacajawea, the state park is also where the U.S.’s longest river begins; the Missouri. With relatively short and fairly easy running terrain, one can enjoy the splendor of this wide open environment where the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers all meet then run the shores of the first mile of the Missouri River.

Springhill Community Road

Now this is certainly not a trail, however the environment surrounding this dirt road makes it worthy in my book. Springhill Community Road is about a 20-minute drive north of Bozeman where one can enjoy wide-open farmland while staring at Ross Peak of the Bridger Range. Listen to sand hill cranes, watch white tail deer cross the road from pasture to pasture and for those with a sense of history or who have paid attention, catch a few scenes from the infamous fly fishing film, A River Runs Through It.