Fox Creek to South Cottonwood Shuttle

Hyalite

A fantastic shuttle run close to Bozeman.

Mountain Biking Severe

Distance
13 km
Ascent
197 m
Descent
789 m
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
1.7 km
High Point
2.4 km
Gradient
11˚
Fox Creek to South Cottonwood Shuttle Map

This route connecting Fox Creek and South Cottonwood creates a fantastic shuttle run right on the outskirts of Bozeman.

Description

The shuttle drive to reach the Fox Creek trail follows a two wheel drive dirt road that's quite smooth until the final half-mile pitch. This final section is rougher but doesn't necessarily require high clearance. Most Subarus or similar should be fine. However, if you don't feel like driving this final pitch, it doesn't add too much more pedaling onto the ride.

From the shuttle drop, it's a short, steep grunt to the top of Fox Creek. After just a few minutes of pedaling or pushing through the trees, you're greeted by an incredible view of the Gallatins from an alpine meadow!

After pulling on your pads, it's time to grip it and rip it! The descent begins fast and furious, blasting through the alpine meadow before funneling into the trees. Once it enters the trees, the singletrack gets rougher and rockier, with some challenging rock gardens and drops. The singletrack is narrow and twisty, with some overhanging brush and limbs slapping you as you ride by. While the trail is easy to follow, it's clear that Fox Creek doesn't see too much trail traffic. All the better for you to enjoy this gem!

After crossing a creek, the route takes a right turn on the South Cottonwood Trail. The upper section of South Cottonwood is rocky and rough but quite rideable. Here, you'll enjoy plenty of challenging rock gardens with fairly wide-open sightlines. Even down here in the valley, you'll break into a few wide-open meadows, which provide fantastic views of the mountains towering above you on both sides.

The trail gets dramatically easier as it descends. Even though the FATMAP difficulty for this entire ride is given as "Severe," that rating is based on Fox Creek and the upper section of South Cottonwood. The lower stretches of trail actually only deserve a "Moderate" rating.

Be sure to ride heads-up for other trail users in the lower sections. The lower trailhead is located right on the outskirts of the city, making it a very popular access point to the mountains. The lower sections of the trail are filled with hikers at all times and on any day of the week—especially during mid-summer.

Note:

The Bozeman area is renowned as prime grizzly bear country. Signs at every trailhead warn that bears are highly active in the area. Mountain biking is considered a high-risk activity in grizzly bear country due to the quiet speed of a bicycle and how quickly you can accidentally sneak up on a bear when rounding a blind turn. To mitigate this risk, make plenty of noise while riding, try to ride with a group of people, and consider attaching a bear bell to your handlebars. Also, make certain that you carry bear spray with you every time you ride, in case you do get into an encounter with a grizzly.

Difficulty

Severe

Widely variable, narrow trail tread with steeper grades and unavoidable obstacles of 15in/38cm tall or less. Obstacles may include unavoidable bridges 24in/61cm wide or less, large rocks, gravel, difficult root sections, and more. Ideal for advanced-level riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

July, August, September, October

Features

  • Technical
  • Picturesque
  • Shuttle-run
  • Singletrack
  • In the forest
  • Drops
  • Roots
  • Rock Gardens

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area