Explore the most popular fishing trails in Gallatin National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

As other reviewers have stated, this is a gradual steady climb to the top (meaning completely downhill on the way out). The trail was moderately crowded with hikers and dogs. The bugs were insane--flies and mosquitos all over the shore of Emerald Lake. Fishing was great, lots of grayling and cutthroat. We camped near the lake and were disappointed to have multiple groups walk through our camp between 8 and 9 PM. There were probably close to 10 different groups camping that night (Saturday 7/14) and one camp stayed up drinking and yelling until after midnight. The only plus to that was that because I was awake, I left the tent to use the bathroom and caught an amazing star show around 1 AM. Would not camp here again, but I would likely hike the trail up and back for some good exercise.

Yes I agree with the previous post. We hiked about 5 1/2 miles. It’s an easy hike through the forest then it opens up to the river and meadows. There were cows everywhere in the woods so don’t let them scare you!! A nice easy hike!

1.5 hours to a beautiful lake with minimal breaks. Pretty "buggy" at the lake and in spots on the trail. Mostly gradual elevation climb from beginning to end. Good workout!

Did this hike Friday (7/13/18) later in the afternoon as a large two family group (8 yoa to 51 yoa). It was warmer and we wished we had brought more water on the trail as most of the trail is rolling and climbing through the forest with not much wind moving.

The lake was beautiful and provided some cool relief. My brother in law who does triathlons (competed in Kona) brought his wetsuit and swam the lake. Another check box filled in his bucket list.

Serene trail ending in a beautiful lake. The lake is wonderful to swim in during the summer.

We did see a grizzly bear within 10 feet when we turned a corner. It quickly ran away. We also heard from hikers heading down that they had seen a mountain lion around the same location as the bear (~.6 miles in).

Be aware, carry bear spray, don’t hike alone, and be careful if you bring your dog!

Was a nice hike in a wooded area to the lake. It had some steeper inclines but we were able to stop and rest by a beautiful stream. The meadow and wildflowers were awesome! The thing that didn’t make it worth doing again was the road to the trailhead. For the last 3 miles it was very rough with rocks and pot holes. Took a while to get there in our truck.

steady hike up with a couple water crossings. 2 bridges, 1 Rock hop, 1 log walk. gorgeous lake Worth taking a swim in with the jumping fish.

Super fun hike- I was completely alone with my dogs which is always amazing. I was able to easily make it to all the lakes, but I’m glad I had my phone gps and maps. The trail up to the upper two lakes is much narrower and not well marked. However the trail is worn and easy to follow once you are on it.

The trail has about 4 steep sections followed by flat sections to catch your breathe. I made it to the lake in an hour. Some people were fishing, not sure if they were having any luck. Good hike, rough road getting up there. Glad I borrowed a friends truck.

Great hike. Up, up, up all the way for a brilliant lake view!

backpacking
10 days ago

This is one of my favorite hikes within 30 minutes of Bozeman! You can expect a gradual, steady climb on a wide trail that winds through thick trees the majority of the way up. You’ll also get a few opportunities to admire the canyon walls towering above you as you make your way up. There is also a beautiful section that runs through a small open area next to a creek. Once you near Emerald Lake, you’ll start to enter a few larger meadows. When you reach Emerald lake, you’ll have a great view of the peaks and plenty of spots for a picnic or camping.

If Emerald lake is too crowded, continue up the west side of the lake through yet another beautiful meadow. The trail takes you one mile further to Heather lake. It is slightly smaller and has more bugs, but will likely be less crowded. There was still quite a bit of snow to go through to get to Heather Lake, last weekend, but it was manageable as long as you have a general idea of where the lake is.

Solid hike, lake at the end is beautiful.

Beautiful views at the end of the hike. Throughout the hike, you are mostly hiking through the forest at a consistent incline with a few breaks. There are a few breaks in the forest with some pretty views as well though, but not many. There are rocks throughout the trail, which I thought were useful in maintaining footing, rather than hiking on slippery gravel, etc.

Pretty heavily trafficked but really pretty lake at the end. We have done this in the summer and also did it April 22nd and the majority of the trail was snow packed. Always good to pack bear spray.

Great workout and a beautiful hike. Love all the creek crossings and the sound of the rushing water as you hike. Lots of families and dogs on the trail - everyone was very friendly.

It was a nice day on the trail today. It was pretty muddy is spots though.

What a beautiful ending to a tough hike. It felt good to accomplish it, but the elevation is no joke. Keep in mind I'm a 50 year old woman from Ohio and not used to the elevation here. The lake is totally worth it though.

Beautiful hike! Pretty steep but plenty of flats for breaks. Mostly wooded and beautiful views of the lake at the top! One of my favorites in the area! The trail was completely clear of snow and the trailhead is right off the highway! Would highly recommend for most any hikers!

The trail was a really easy gradual gain. Lots of rocks so a little more attention needed to watch your footing. Large amount of foot traffic on the main trail but a side trip up the ridge trail from the lake gave way to basically no traffic and amazing views.

Great hike. All up hill for 3 miles. We really enjoyed the exercise and nature. It really is beautiful and all the people that we encountered along the way were friendly...

Great workout. Pretty rocky though...be careful! Tons of dogs (and poop) on the trail

26 days ago

Fun and quick hike. Brought the fly rod and found some brook trout in the lake

fishing
26 days ago

Took my 9-year-old this past weekend and got to the top! The trail was still snowed over in some places and we had to follow the tracks from previous hikers. Due to the cold and windy conditions, we only stayed for about an hour but still caught four Grayling! Brought back a lot of memories of going up there when I was a kid.

Trail had snow on parts and a small lake from snow melting towards the last stretch of the hike that we had to go around but omg was it worth it!!! The hike and the lake are breathtaking. Even the drive up Portal Creek Road is breathtaking!!!! Was much colder at the lake so didn’t stay long. Definitely coming again to try to catch some golden trout. Lots of evidence of bears being in the area so be on alert!!! 06/23/2018

Great hike. Kids did it well. Beautiful when we got to the lake

hiking
1 month ago

I fell a couple miles short of the lake before I turned around (talked to others at the trailhead who did the same) there's still a considerable amount of snow/it was too deep for me. Wear boots, the way up is gorgeous and challenging for hikers wanting to get into better shape!

Wonderful trail- all uphill for 3 miles. The rocks were somewhat challenging at times. The view of the lake was spectacular. Much easier on the return since it was all downhill. The river running by the trailer is beautiful and very serene. It took us three hours total

Absolutely stunning the whole way through. Very rocky trail, but worth every step once you get to the lake!

hiking
1 month ago

Great views at the lake, but getting up was sorta difficult due to the trail being snowed over, but if you follow the creek, you'll find it, very worth it (btw went on June 8 was still snowy)

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