After a great afternoon exploring Missoula, Montana, we headed southeast toward the first major destination of my birthday road trip: Yellowstone National Park.
Along the way we were passing by Bozeman so we decided to detour through town and then check out the infamous ‘M’ hike immediately outside of town.
Bozeman was a little crazy — there were people everywhere downtown shopping, walking along the streets, filling every parking spot, and not a socially distanced or masked person in sight.
We decided to just take everything in from the safety and comfort of our car, and my overall impression was that of a well-to-do ski resort town. Things appeared a little more swanky than Missoula, and given our hiking attire, I was ok with just a passing glance this time around.
Outside of town was a different story — you didn’t have to go far to come across the old cannery factories and rural farmland. We briefly wound our way through this less congested environment to the ‘M’ trailhead for our late morning hike.
According to Outside Bozeman, the ‘M’ was created in 1915 by Montana State University students. You can reach it via a steep, direct trail (.5 miles) or a more leisurely winding path (1.5 miles), both of which offer uninhibited views across the Gallatin Valley.
There were quite a few cars at the trailhead when we arrived but everyone was pulling away and leaving. This was ok by me since we were planning to try and steer clear of anyone on the trail anyway.
What I quickly came to realize was that the abrupt departure was due to the weather — the sky was moments away from dumping buckets of rain on the crazy couple just setting out for the ‘M.’
We decided to take the steep and direct trail to the top. We were quickly out of breath and soaking wet, but we made it! The views were limited but I imagine they are incredible when it’s clear.
The rocks on the trail were slick from the rain so we opted to take the more winding trail back down. It was a lovely hike, it just took us a while to dry out afterward!
It took us about an hour to complete the 1.6-mile loop and 850 feet of gain, and it was well worth the stop. If you find yourself in or around Bozeman, Montana, I recommended checking out the ‘M!’
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