Ousel Falls

A beautiful 35-foot-tall waterfall with pools perfect for swimming.

Hiking Easy

Distance
2.6 km
Ascent
120 m
Descent
120 m
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
2 km
High Point
2 km
Gradient
Ousel Falls Map

Ousel Falls is one of the easiest and most popular hikes in Big Sky. This wide, smooth trail leads to an incredible 35-foot waterfall that provides a fantastic reward for minimal effort. During the dog days of summer, the pools both below and above the falls serve as popular swimming holes.

Description

The hike begins from the trailhead by the same name. Even though the trailhead is quite large and well-developed, this hike is exceedingly popular, and the parking lot is almost always full. It doesn't matter if it's the middle of the day mid-week, you'll always find other people on this short hike to Ousel Falls. To get a parking spot, plan ahead and get to the trailhead very early, get someone to drop you off, or park further down the road and add some additional miles of hiking up the bike path to reach the main trailhead.

Once on the Ousel Falls trail, you'll find a wide gravel path that's well-built and well-maintained to endure the incredible amount of trail traffic. But that doesn't mean it's flat. You'll have to descend a short but steep hillside immediately after deaprting the parking lot, climb up and over a few small hills, then ascend another steep hill to reach the overlook of the falls. According to FATMAP, you'll have to climb and descend almost 400 vertical feet round-trip, although some other sources report smaller numbers.

This amount of elevation gain and loss might prove challenging for those who aren't used to hiking, but the smooth trail tread underfoot earns this hike an "Easy" FATMAP difficulty rating. If you take your time, pack some water and a snack, you'll almost certainly be able to make this trek and enjoy this stunning waterfall in a pristine canyon!

Note:

The Big Sky area is renowned as prime grizzly bear country. Signs at every trailhead warn that bears are highly active in the area. To mitigate the risk of bear encounters, make plenty of noise while hiking, try to hike with a group of people, and consider attaching a bear bell to your backpack. Also, make certain that you carry bear spray with you every time you hike, in case you do get into an encounter with a grizzly.

Difficulty

Easy

Walking along a well-kept trail that’s mostly flat. No obstacles are present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Picturesque
  • Water features
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area