Located northeast of Bozeman, the Bridger Range is also known as the Bridger Mountains is a fairly small mountain range that stretches 45 miles from north to south from Bozeman to Maudlow, MT.
The Bridger Range is named for Jim Bridger, the pioneer explorer who set a trail through the mountains from the southern part of Wyoming to Bighorn Pass in Montana, in 1864.
He was one of the first Europeans to pass through this area. The tallest peak in the range is Sacagawea Peak, named for the Native American woman that led the Lewis and Clark Expedition through much of the western United States.
The southern end of the range serves as a backdrop for the City of Bozeman. From Bozeman you can see the white “M” that is prominently displayed on the side of Baldy Mountain. The “M” represents Montana State University which is located in Bozeman.
Bridger Range Statistics
- Highest Elevation (ft/m) – 9,665 feet (2,945 meters)
- Most Recognizable Peak – Tweedy Mountain
- Season (when can it be accessed) – All Year
Bridger Range Recreation Activities
Located in the Gallatin National Forest, the Bridger Range has a wide variety of recreational activities for visitors and locals to enjoy, throughout the year.
Because the Bridger Range is located so close to Bozeman, MT, there seem to be more hiking opportunities in this range than some others in Montana.
Just outside of Bozeman you’ll find plenty of City and County maintained hiking trails and parks. These offer locals and visitors easy access to the National Forest and the Bridger Range.
For hikers that are looking for a quieter place to hike, the Bridger Range has plenty of hiking trails that are accessible outside of Bozeman. Many of the trails in the Bridger Range are maintained by the Forest Service, so they are also multi-use trails as well.
The Bridger Range also offers a number of backcountry hiking opportunities, and the range is quite popular for backpackers as well.
Camping is fairly popular in the Bridger Range. The proximity to Bozeman makes the Bridgers quite popular as a weekend camping area for locals.
The Forest Service has plenty of spots for dispersed camping within the Bridgers, and there are also three Forest Service Campgrounds within the Bridger Range.
These campgrounds are pretty popular during the summer, so visitors should plan ahead if they are hoping to have a spot in one of the developed campgrounds.
Many of the hiking trails within the Bridger Range are also open for mountain biking. So there are lots of options in the Bridger Range.
There are plenty of great opportunities for skiing in the Bridger Range. Many of the Forest Service trails are great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
The Brackett Creek Area of the Bridger Range is popular for mountain bikers in the summer, but during the winter the Lower South Fork Brackett trail is one of the most popular cross-country skiing areas in the Bridger Range.
For skiers that are looking for a bit more speed, the Bridger Bowl Ski Area is located in the Bridger Range near Bozeman. This alpine ski area is a great place to enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding during the winter.
Bridger Range Trail Routes
Thanks to the Bridger Range being so close to Bozeman, this mountain range has plenty of great hiking trails to explore.
College “M” Trailhead
The College “M” Trail is actually a number of trails that start just outside of Bozeman and work their way up the side of Baldy Mountain.
The trail system is designed to provide hikers of all experience levels access to the mountain area just on the outskirts of Bozeman.
Most of the trails in this area lead to the rock “M” on the side of Baldy Mountain which is maintained by Montana State University. Trail lengths and difficulty vary, however, there are easy trails that are only a couple of miles long with moderate elevation gain.
There are also longer trails that start at the College “M” area that is more difficult and offer longer distances with more challenging terrain.
Two trails that start at the College “M” trailhead area that is great for more experienced hikers include the Bridger Ridge Trail and the Baldy Peak Summit Trail.
Hikers that want to enjoy the views of the Bridger Range from its highest point will want to check out the trail to the Sacagawea Peak summit.
This trail is considered a difficult trail, with nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain over just a few miles. The hike is a 5.2-mile out and back trail. This trail offers great wildflower, wildlife viewing, and amazing views of the Bridger Range.
Hikers that want to check out this trail should be aware that the road to the trailhead can be very rough, and 4wheel drive vehicles may be necessary to reach the trailhead.
The Truman Gulch Trail is a great hike if you are looking for a less busy trail in the Bridger Range.
This trail starts near Belgrade, MT, and is a moderately difficult 5.3-mile out and back hike. This trail is a multi-use trail so you can expect to encounter hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians along the trail.
For most people, this trail takes approximately 3 hours to complete. The last mile or so of the trail has the greatest amount of elevation gain along the hike. The total elevation gain on the Truman Gulch Trail is 1, 407 feet.
Fairy Lake Loop
Not a long hike, but the Fairy Lake Loop is a great hike for families and for those that are camping at the Fairy Lake Campground. This short 1-mile hike is a peaceful loop around Fairy Lake.
There is minimal elevation gain (68 feet), so most hikers will find this to be a very easy hike. The trail is quite popular so during weekends you’ll find that there are lots of other people on the trail.
For a more peaceful experience, head out on this trail during the middle of the week, when locals are busy at work.
The Saddle Peak trail is one of the most challenging in the Bridger Range. This 8.8 mile out and back trail will take you a full day to complete, so you will want to set out early so that you will have plenty of time to enjoy the hike and still make it back to your car with plenty of daylight.
This trail is well used, so it is easy to follow. Heavy use has made this trail rocky; good shoes are a must for this trail. This trail does have a substantial amount of elevation gain, at 3, 713 feet over the course of the trail.
While this hike is difficult, from the summit of Saddle Peak you’ll enjoy amazing views of the Bridger Range to the north and east, and Bozeman is just visible to the south.