The Goose Creek trail area near Bozeman and Livingston Montana is popular for all types of outdoor recreation. Goose Creek is part of the Custer Gallatin National Forest and has been actively managed by the Forest Service. Most of the area has been logged in the past and the abandoned logging roads provide today’s trail system. This is a popular area for both motorized and human powered activities so expect to find yourself sharing the roads and trails.
The Goose Creek trailhead is easily reached from Bozeman or Livingston Montana. It is accessed by exiting Interstate 90 about 7 miles east of Bozeman at Exit 316, the Trail Creek exit. Head south on Trail Creek road for 3 miles to the well marked road heading up Goose Creek. Follow this road for 2 miles through private property until you reach the locked gate and parking area. Please respect the private property owners and stay on the road until you reach the parking area. The trail is obvious from the parking area as it follows the road upward.
The Goose Creek Trails
The trails here are all old logging roads that wend their way upward from the parking area. There are lots of trail options where side roads split off and you can chose the routes that look good to you. The main road continues about 5 1/2 miles to the Trail Creek Cabin. This Forest Service rental cabin is a popular overnight destination for winter trips. Its often reached by access from the Newman Creek Road which intersects the Trail Creek Road east of the Goose Creek turnoff.
With the completion of the Chestnut Mountain Trail its possible to link these trails. This creates a point to point trip if you can arrange for a vehicle at each end. This is especially popular with mountain bikers. It is also possible to continue on to Bear Canyon leading toward Bozeman.
Cross Country Skiing
No matter where you go on the Goose Creek trails you will find relatively flat and even trails that climb steadily away from the parking area. These trails are old logging roads so they are wide, flat and never too steep. In places the “road” quality of the trails is gradually lessening as time has softened the road cut but its always obvious that you are on a road. Consequently, the Goose Creek trails are not great for hikers but I highly recommend them as ski trails.
Goose Creek offers great cross country skiing for all abilities. For easy skiing you can stick to the roads to find many miles of enjoyment. For more aggressive skiers Goose Creek provides access to some backcountry downhill runs. You can switchback up the mountains on the logging roads or head straight up but either allows access some downhill runs.
Views of Three Ranges
Depending on which trails/roads you follow you will get great views of a number of mountain ranges while on the Goose Creek trails. The views from Goose Creek look across Paradise Valley from west to east with the Absaroka range on the eastern horizon. The Crazy Mountains are prominent to the northeast and the Bridger Mountains are to the north. Whichever way you look, the vistas are great.
Goose Creek is popular for motorized recreation so, if you are seeking a wilderness experience, you won’t find it here. Snowmobiles are common in the winter and 4-wheelers and motorcycles are abundant in the summer. The roads make for pleasant mountain biking and are a great option for a family bike ride and for ski touring. All the different road options Goose Creek provide a lot of opportunities for trails. However, most hikers will probably want to visit one of the other nearby hiking trails.