Backcountry Skiing in Hyalite
There are just a few weeks left to take advantage of the amazing access to backcountry skiing and snowboarding provided in Hyalite Canyon (the Hyalite road is closed to vehicle traffic from April 1-May 15). With a broad diversity of backcountry options, Hyalite has something for every backcountry skier – from low angle meadows to steep and narrow couloirs. Depending on the tour, most backcountry skiers park at either the Lick Creek, History Rock, Chisolm, or the Grotto Falls trailhead, or the reservoir day use area. The Hyalite Winter Recreation Map is a helpful resource to figure out where to go. And, don't forget to check out the Backcountry Skiing page on this website to find out where to learn about avalanche and snow conditions.
History Rock and Lick Creek are both fairly low in the Canyon and provide low-angle meadow skiing with relatively short approaches. These are fantastic options for dawn patrols and after-work turns but they're also great options for people looking to make lots of laps.
The next stop as you drive up the Canyon is the Hyalite Day Use Area. This is the big parking lot at the reservoir, and your jumping-off point for touring up towards Mt. Blackmore. Visible from Bozeman, Mt. Blackmore may be one of the most popular tours in Hyalite, and for good reason. From the parking area it's approximately 5 miles to the summit and decent options abound. From Blackmore you can either descend the way you came (be careful – the trail is steep and fast on the exit!), or continue on to other peaks in almost every direction. Blackmore is a fun destination all in itself but also the gateway to much longer tours and endless adventures deeper in the Gallatin Range.
Beyond the reservoir backcountry skiers have two main options – stop at the Chisolm parking area and tour up the East Fork or into Flanders, or continue to the very end of the road and park at Grotto Falls. It's a long ski from the Chisolm parking area to the head of the East Fork (Emerald Lake area) but this is a fun area for overnight trips, or for early-season skiing if snow conditions allow (the East Fork road is generally drivable until early December and the gate is open until January). The Flanders drainage is much closer and within a reasonable day-trip distance all winter long. Grotto Falls, the final stop on our Hyalite overview, is the end of the line. From here you can tour up the main Hyalite drainage towards Hyalite Peak, with numerous side options leading to many picturesque alpine basins loaded with great skiing.
Of course, ski season doesn't end just because the road closes to motor vehicles on April 1. Spring is one of the best times of year for backcountry skiing in Montana. If you're stoked on multi-sport days you can always ride your bike up the Hyalite road, ski gear in tow (or on your back) and continue skiing well into the spring.
Have fun skiing and be safe!