Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

South Cottonwood Creek Trail is a 4.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gallatin Gateway, Montana that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.4 miles Elevation Gain: 488 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

hiking
icy
snow
1 month ago

Well used trail. Snow packed with a few icy patches. Beautiful. Met one skier and three other hikers with dogs. Yak Traks were helpful.

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
2 months ago

hiking
icy
snow
2 months ago

hiking
snow
3 months ago

This was a wonderful trail, with lots of switchbacks. Downside, it was a little icy. Just make sure you watch where you step.

hiking
muddy
snow
5 months ago

There is a huge tree blocking trail that is difficult to get through with branches and all. It would put a stop to a bicyclist. Snow wasn’t deep but waterproof shoes that could handle deep mud was important as was crampons for the icy bits. Hiked over from History Rock. Only saw three bags of dog feces- a record low for Bozeman trails.

hiking
7 months ago

Second time on this trail. We got a late start, a little after 10 am. The parking lot was full but the trail wasn’t as crowded as I thought it’d be. It’s a mellow hike, but I think the views along the way are quite lovely, and I love the sound of the creek!

hiking
7 months ago

I recommend this trail to anyone who enjoys hiking with families or solo. Beautiful day. Met some people on the trail but not crowded.

hiking
8 months ago

Awesome trail, especially if you get there early on a weekday! When we arrived only one other person on the mountain. On the way back we passed others, all of the dogs were off leash (so was ours). Everyone was friendly, dogs were well behaved and it was a beautiful day. As mentioned in another review, we came across ZERO dog poop on the trail. If you aren’t fond of dogs however, this isn’t the trail for you or probably any trail around Bozeman.

hiking
9 months ago

Before you attempt this trail just know it’s basically a free range dog park. People do not clean up after their dogs on this trail nor do they keep them from your children or have any sense of boundary. That being said the sign as you walk up let’s you know it’s also a bike trail and horse trail. If it wasn’t for almost stepping in dog poop twice on the trail before we even got to the creek it would actually be an enjoyable hike. So if you’re looking to hike or run this just know you’ll smell dog poop and almost step in it the whole way.

hiking
9 months ago

nice trail

hiking
10 months ago

Despite some recent cold and rain, the trail was in good shape. We went Thursday morning and saw several trail runners and a few hikers. A van with mountain bikers pulled in when we were leaving. No bugs and only a few snow patches in shady corners. We went a little bit past the second bridge to get our total hike length up to 5 miles.

hiking
bugs
muddy
10 months ago

hiking
snow
Thu Mar 21 2019

Nice trail on a day when you need an easier hike close to town. The trail is frequented often, even in the snow, so everything is packed down nicely. The road up stays decently maintained due to the houses. The creek is melted out and a great pit stop for pups to drink.

snowshoeing
snow
Fri Jan 25 2019

Sun Sep 23 2018

Exactly as described - moderate difficulty and traffic. Beautiful trail that is supper well Maintained and more or less follows Cottonwood Creek..

horseback riding
Tue Aug 21 2018

Took this trail on horseback for the first time last weekend and I loved it. The trail itself was pretty smooth with minimal rocky spots. A few mild switchbacks in the beginning but still very easy to see what was coming ahead of you. The trail was a little wider then a horse most of the way but would periodically widen out and there was some small meadows to pull over and let the horses graze. If you were to meet up with another group of horses it could be tricky to pass in most places. Also make sure if riding horses that they are good with bikes, people and dogs because there were quite a few hikers, dogs of leash and mountain bikers (Which is to be expected being in Bozeman) Everyone we came across was courteous and seemed delighted to see horses on the trail. The river crossings were my favorite. Their were 3 nice wide shallow crossings. Horses must cross through the river because the bridges are not made for them. There was on section about midway that had a pretty steep cliff to one side. We rode until you reach the Y and turned back. I was able to turn my 3 horse slant load trailer and short bed pickup around with no trouble in the parking lot and park alongside the road. If your trailer is larger I would recommend getting there early or checking out the parking lot before hand because it can get crowded. Over all great trail that I will definitely ride and hike again!!!

Fri Aug 17 2018

this was an awesome trail for the whole family. my 4 yr old did the entire route and my retriever loved it. Great Family Hike!!

mountain biking
Sun Jul 29 2018

Great trail, with many water crossings. Not too technical, or too much climbing great for an easy ride to enjoy the scenery.

hiking
Mon Jul 23 2018

Very enjoyable! Lots of shade, three easy river crossings before the turn-around as mentioned in an earlier review, but take time to sit on the rock and enjoy the view before you head back. Alternating short climbs and descents make this very pleasant!

Thu Jul 19 2018

Great hike. Mostly shaded with some open areas. Beautiful wild flowers and creek crossings with single log and handrail. Lots of dogs (most off leash) and mountain bikers. Alternates climbing/descending so it's not all up, then all down. Very enjoyable hike!

Tue Jul 10 2018

one of my favorites. Wildflowers, water, dog friendly and fun!

Fri Jun 01 2018

my favorite, conveniently located trail for running. does get pretty busy on weekends and in the evening.

hiking
Mon May 21 2018

Amazing little trail. I hiked it in the winter with tennis shoes and Yak Tracks. My feet were soaked at the end. Next time I will wear my new waterproof hiking boot. The trail is about 5 miles but you can continue along to Hyalite or other trails. It winds along and crosses a creek. I believe cross-country skies and/or snow shoes might be needed when it snows. The trail was packed for me. More can be found on my blog post (https://www.brisul.com/blog/2018/1/29/south-cottonwood-creek-trail-bozeman-mt)

Sun Sep 24 2017

Loved it!

Load More