H Paradise Valley
S. Fk. Deep Creek
Pine Creek H,C
Passage Creek Falls
Big Timber Area
Creek Falls H,C,V
Boulder Meadows H,C
Twin Lakes H,C
Lava Lake H
Little Belt Mountains
MT Railroading V
Gap Wind Farm V
Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness
Rocks Rec Area V,C
Lake State Park V,C
Mystic Lake and
the New World Gulch Trail
There are many hiking opportunities near Bozeman, Montana and
Mystic Lake is one of my favorites. You can get to Mystic Lake from a
couple of different trail heads but I usually use the access in Bear
Canyon. Located about 5
miles east of Bozeman, the Bear Canyon area
offers great hiking, mountain biking and cross country ski
The trail to Mystic Lake
begins at the main
trailhead parking area which is near the end of the Bear Canyon Road.
From the east or west on I90, take exit 309 and head South. Look for
small sign for
Bear Canyon on your left about 1/4 mile from Interstate. Turn east
(left) onto this road and travel about 3 1/2 miles of good road to the
as seen from the north end of the lake. The large
meadow is a treat to the eyes.
There is little hiking information at the trail head and no
outhouses or water so come prepared! The parking area is
for many vehicles. This is a well used horse trail so at
might find trailers taking some space in the parking area.
The trailhead begins right at the info sign and heads up the
hill. Follow the trail up the hill and soon you will encounter the
small stream in the bottom of New World
Gulch that you will follow for the next couple of miles. There is a
looped trail that is possible to take but is
very poorly signed. Unless you are comfortable with your maps I suggest
you stick to the main trail.
The trail follows the stream for about 2 miles. At times, the
trail takes is close to the water while at other times you climb high
above the water to advance
along the path. After dropping down to the creek one final time, the
trail turns to the southeast and begins to climb away from the water.
The entire trail stretch through this first section is
generally quite steep. You are mostly climbing, sometimes up a
pretty good slope.
However, this is generally a moderately easy hike.
In places the trail is very rocky which can present difficulties.
other times the trail is muddy and in spring or wet weather this trail
can be difficult.
beginning your hike
you will encounter the stream that flows through New World Gulch.
As you begin the next section of trail you climb
gradually to the southeast away from the water. This section of trail
three miles in length and is a nice hiking trail, wandering
up and down through meadows and forest. From spring through
mid-summer the meadows are a riot of color from the multitude of wild
flowers. In wet places clouds of butterflies provide a living
kaleidoscope of swirling colors. Keep your eyes peeled as you
hike as the area is home to elk, deer and other wild creatures.
The trail continues to
work higher until a very gradual pass is reached. From here you begin a
mild downward walk along a long rounded ridge top. This is an
easy stroll that makes you wonder why all trails can't be just like
After a short time you can
begin to glimpse Mystic
the far distance to the south. Gradually the trees open to present
better views and soon you are looking down onto the beautiful meadow
that fills the shallow valley to the north of the lake.
climb down brings you to the edge of the meadow and the lake seems to
be within short distance.
The Mystic lake trail wanders
through a combination of open forest and mountain meadow.
Watch for Elk and Deer in the meadows.
This is where you
need to decide where you want to go. If you stay on the trail
will quickly climb above the lake to the East. Here you
with the abandoned roads that are in the area and can hike on to the
Mystic Lake Cabin.
lake itdelf is your objective
is little to gain by climbing to the East. Rather, I suggest that you
attempt to either pick a trail through the meadow or follow the bottom
of the hills on either side of the lake. While the meadow
seem and obvious choice it can be a very difficult hike in wet times.
The meadow is laced with small streams and marshy areas and can be a
very difficult hike. Beware, the insects can be quite bad in this
To complete your hike return
following the same trails. If you are experienced
there is a second trail that runs more to the East of the New World
Gulch trail. This trail is clearly marked on maps but can be
to find when in the area. The few trail signs will not help you find
this trail. The return trip is more downhill than up which
very welcome. The trail from the parking lot to the lake and
is about 12miles and can be done as a day hike. However, as
Montana hiking, your personal hiking speed and style may dictate that
you approach this hike differently. Backpackers will find campsites in
the area and for those who would like to camp for more than one night,
the nearby Bear Lakes make for an interesting side hike. You
also make a backpacking loop by continuing past Bear Lakes to connect
with the Bear Creek trail. click
down on Mystic Lake from the East. If you follow the trail to the
Mystic Lake Cabin you will view the vistas of the entire lake.
Mystic Lake is a great hike with easy access.
Although it is a 12 mile round trip to the lake, this trail
great place to go for a shorter hike. Wildflowers, butterflies and the
chance to spot big game make this a great place to take a hike.
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