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Palisade Falls, Montana

Not every hike to a waterfall needs to be difficult. Sure, many of the best rewards for a challenging hike are waterfalls, but in the case of Palisade Falls near Bozeman, MT, a short, easy hike leads to a great waterfall.

Palisade Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in Montana. The trail is a short 1.2 miles round-trip and takes most people about 40-minutes to complete. The trail is paved all the way to the base of the falls.

Because this trail is paved, it is quite busy. You’ll find that on weekends in the summer this trail is packed with families, seniors, and hikers from all walks of life.

Palisade Falls is located south of Bozeman, MT in the Hyalite Canyon area. This canyon is very popular with locals as a prime place for outdoor recreation.

You’ll find a number of trails, along with opportunities for rock-climbing, cross-country skiing, fishing, and many other activities in the Hyalite Canyon area.

Unlike many other popular trails in the area, the Palisade Falls trailhead has a large parking lot that is busy, but rarely completely full. Use Hyalite Canyon Road from 19th Avenue in Bozeman to access the Palisade Falls trailhead.

Palisade Falls Statistics

palisade falls statistics
Image: Troy Smith
  • Elevation: 7,200 feet
  • Height: 80 Feet
  • Trailhead: Palisade Falls Trailhead
  • Season (when can it be accessed): Year-Round, with some winter closures.

Recreational Activities Near Palisade Falls

Hyalite Canyon has plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Hiking to the falls is only one of the many ways to enjoy the outdoors near Palisade Falls.

Hiking

hiking

Palisade Falls is located in Hyalite Canyon. This area has a number of hiking and biking trails that you can experience.

The Palisade Falls trail is likely the easiest of the trails, but there are other trails that are accessible to hikers of varying experience levels in the canyon.

Including the Palisade Falls National Recreation Trail, there are seven trailheads in the Hyalite Canyon area. Some are easy day hikes, while others like the Hyalite Peak/Gallatin Crest trail take a number of days and require backcountry camping.

Rock Climbing

rock climbing

The rock formations that serve as the backdrop for Palisade Falls are the reason that Hyalite Canyon is popular for rock climbers in the Bozeman area.

The canyon features some very popular climbing routes on gneiss rock, as well as some great volcanic rock routes.

Popular routes in the Hyalite Canyon include Cleopatra’s Needle, Mummy Cooler, Black Magic, and Winter Dance. All these routes are some of the best climbing in the world.

In the winter, the canyon is also very popular for ice climbing. There are over 150 designated ice climbing routes in the 3-square-mile canyons. In fact, Hyalite Canyon has the most concentrated, natural ice climbing routes in North America.

There are a number of climbing guides in the Bozeman area that can share the best routes, or provide their services for visitors to the area.

Fishing

fishing

Hyalite Reservoir is a nice, man-made reservoir that is the central feature of Hyalite Canyon. This reservoir is fed by a number of small creeks that are great for fishing.

These creeks are home to native fish species, some of which are considered prime sport fish.

If stream fishing isn’t your thing, Hyalite Reservoir is a great place to shore fish. This reservoir is stocked by the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, so your chances of catching a trout in one of Montana’s blue ribbon reservoirs are good.

Make sure that before you fish in the Palisade Falls area you check the Montana fishing regulations and purchase your fishing license.

All adults and children that want to fish in Montana need to acquire a Montana fishing license. These can be purchased online at www.fwp.mt.gov.

Trail Routes Near Palisade Falls

trail routes near palisade falls
Image: Troy Smith

Palisade Falls National Recreation Trail

An easy hike to the base of Palisade Falls. This 1.2-mile, out and back trail is considered an easy hike and is accessible to most visitors.

The trail is paved to a nice viewing area near the base of the falls. More adventurous hikers can use the dirt trails and scramble over rocks to reach the base of the falls.

This hike takes most people around 40 minutes to complete. The area is quite busy so expect crowds, especially during weekends during the warm summer months.

The area is open during the winter, weather permitting. The Palisade Falls trail is used by ice climbers in the winter.

Window Rock Road

Not so much a trail as an old logging road, this hike takes you high enough to have outstanding views of the window that give Window Rock its name.

This hike is a moderately challenging 8.1-miles out and back. You’ll reach a peak elevation of 8.165 feet, and climb a total of 1.400 feet in elevation over the course of the hike.

This trail has some great views that make the many switchbacks along the road worth the work. This trail/road is very popular with backcountry skiers.

Though it is best for more advanced cross-country skiers who will find the steep climb and switchbacks challenging but not technically difficult.

East Fork Hyalite Trail to Emerald and Heather Lakes

If you are not afraid of a little challenge, then you’ll enjoy the trail to Emerald and Heather Lakes. This hike starts near the Palisade Falls trailhead.

The trail follows the East Fork of Hyalite Creek. You’ll travel through the woods, on a fairly well-maintained trail that is easy to follow and fairly wide for most of the 5.4 miles to Emerald and Heather Lakes.

This trail passes a small but pretty waterfall. This view combined with the abundance of wildflowers along the trail makes this a relatively popular trail. The stunning cliffs that rise up around Heather Lake are quite spectacular.

This trail tends to have snow later in the season than many others, so be prepared to hike through some snow, well into late June. Bringing an extra pair of socks is highly recommended.

Blackmore Peak Trail

This challenging trail is a great two-day hike for experienced backpackers. The hike to Blackmore Peak starts on the northwest side of Hyalite Reservoir, where it starts a steady climb from the starting elevation of 6,350 feet at the reservoir to the summit of Blackmore Peak at 10,154 feet.

This trail gains nearly 4,000 feet of elevation over the 11.8-mile, round-trip hike.

Views along this trail are outstanding, and the views of Blackmore Peak, an iconic and unique peak in the Gallatin Range are at every turn. You’ll pass pretty lakes, cross open meadows and traverse mountain passes on this trail.

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