Hikers flock to the Lee Metcalf Spanish Peaks Wilderness Area during the summer. Trails, most more suitable to overnight backpacking than to day hiking, cross the peaks. Trailheads sprout on Highway 191 between Big Sky and Bozeman; the Cascade Creek hike is especially popular, and the trail can be crowded on the weekends. The Swan Creek trail heads out of the Swan Creek campground and follows the creek 11 miles to the Gallatin Divide.
From Big Sky proper, hike along the North Fork trail, one mile off the main road, just above Lone Mountain Ranch. This ridgeline path heads deep into the Spanish Peaks, where it connects with other Forest Service trails.
Backpackers can hike up almost any creek-side trail and catch the Gallatin Divide Trail, which runs north-south along the divide between the Gallatin and Yellowstone Rivers from the Yellowstone National Park boundary to Hyalite Peak, just outside Bozeman. The trail passes lakes, petrified forests (don’t carry out petrified wood unless you have a permit from the ranger station), and badlands; lucky hikers will see moose and possibly bears.
Big Sky’s gondola runs all summer long, transporting mountain bikers up Lone Mountain. It’s $19 for a single ride, $30 for a full day of downhill biking. Bike rentals are available near the base of the gondola (406/995-5840, $63 for 2 hours includes lift) or from Grizzly Outfitters (Town Center, 406/995-2939), where full-suspension mountain bikes rent for $45 per day.
The Big Sky Golf Course (Meadow Village, 406/995-5780, early June–mid-Sept., $69), a challenging course along the banks of the West Fork of the Gallatin River, was designed by Arnold Palmer and is open to the public.
A free nine-hole disc golf course starts behind Huntley Lodge. If you can fathom the idea of renting a disc, they’re available at Big Sky Sports.
Jake’s Horses (406/995-4630 or 800/352-5956, www.jakeshorses.com, $37 one-hour ride, $83 dinner ride) offers a wide variety of guided trail rides around Big Sky. Find the stables three miles south of Big Sky on Highway 191.
Long multipitched climbs right near the highway make the Gallatin Canyon popular with climbers, even though the rock is crumbly and rather unstable.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition