“Epic views of the Gallatin and Paradise valleys from the spine of the "Devil's Backbone."”
— samh Haraldson
Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
One of, if not the finest high routes in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem the Gallatin Divide is a high, singletrack route that traverses the entirety of the Gallatin Mountain Range. Multiple start and end locations exist providing for many options and making it repeatable as a future hike.
It is hard work hiking from the valley floor to the ridge top but once there a hiker will find themselves staying up high and drinking in the far-stretching views across Yellowstone, the Absaroka-Beartooths, the Madison Range, the Bridgers, the Crazies, the Tobacco Roots, the Belts, and more.
The intrepid sustainability enthusiast can link up a ride on the Big Sky bus and the use of a bicycle to make for a low carbon footprint trip.
Need to Know
Depending on snow availability for melting there is little water on the divide proper. Hikers must drop down slightly into side drainages to keep themselves properly hydrated.
Multiple entrances to this hike exist and it can be done in either a North to South or reverse direction. Trailheads at Buffalo Horn and Portal Creek on the West are good starting points as is Tom Miner Basin from the East. Hyalite on the North End is a great place to leave a car for a Northern-terminus ending.
The access trails from the valleys are generally in good shape - some seeing lots of horse traffic. But once on the Ridge a keen eye is required to stay on track. The trail tread comes and goes but with a modicum of attention paid to cairns, cut logs, and trail tread the route is mostly obvious as it meanders along the ridge of the Gallatin Mountains.
Flora & Fauna
Wildflowers will paint the hills in all directions as the snow melts from the hills, revealing Spring in all its glory.
History & Background
This trail was formerly popular with motorbikes and mountain bikers until the area became designated as a Wilderness Study Area in the early part of the 21st century. It has been popular for many years with hikers, equestrian users, cyclists, and even the occasional backcountry skier.