2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
The trailhead for Chestnut Mountain is easily accessible directly from an Interstate 90 exit, but the easy access is deceptive.
This trail quickly becomes a surprisingly beautiful run that leads to a stunning 360-degree panorama of the Gallatin Range. The route begins ascending directly from the trailhead and by the time you reach the summit, you'll have ascended a stiff 2,743 vertical feet in just 5.4 miles.
Get your climbing boots on because it's up, up, up from here. Thankfully, the singletrack climb is well-built, with artful switchbacks and fantastic benchcutting.
The miles roll by quickly thanks to the high-quality trail construction and beautiful views combined.
From some sections of the trail, you'll enjoy spectacular vistas of vaulted cliffs on the opposite side of a narrow valley.
As you climb higher, the wildflowers will begin to burst forth, adding beautiful splashes of color to the sides of the trail.
Higher still, the long-distance vistas begin to open up, and you'll enjoy expansive views across the surrounding mountains. The main reward comes on top of the summit.
Despite being a relatively low summit at just 7,681 feet above sea level, the bald top of Chestnut Mountain provides a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding Gallatin mountains! From this vantage point, the true majesty and expansive spread of the Gallatins become readily apparent.
There truly is a lifetime of adventure here in Bozeman, Montana! Once you're done enjoying the view from the summit, descend back to the car the same way you came.
The wide-open sight lines up high allow you to open the legs up and blaze down the trail.
Lower down in the switchbacks, the sight lines are much shorter, and you might need to slow your roll to avoid colliding with hikers and other runners coming uphill. **Note:** The Bozeman 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 running, try to travel 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 head into the mountains, in case you do get into an encounter with a grizzly.