ImageThe Absaroka Mountain Range fills the Big Sky horizon as horseman Farrell Lloyd and a friend make their way through the Montana backcountry, just outside of Livingston. The small town in the southwestern part of the state is home to nearly 10,000 people and an excellent staging area for some of the state’s best riding opportunities. 

Best Treks
Livingston provides a perfect staging area for riders looking to explore the nearby Gallatin National Forest and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness areas. Here, more than 2,600 miles of riding and hiking trails await visitors, including these top picks recommended by staffers from the Big Timber and Livingston Ranger Districts.

• West Boulder Trail (#41)
This hiking and equestrian trail takes riders 18 miles into the Montana backcountry, along the West Boulder River and into the Mill Creek area. The trail is gentle and easy for the first 12 miles, but gets progressively more primitive and steep as riders make their way into higher elevations. Regrowth is underway where a fire ravaged portions of the trail two years ago, so riders should be on the lookout for falling and unstable timber.

• East Fork of Mill Creek
Riders can explore a portion of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness on this 10-mile trail. Rated easy-to-moderate in difficulty, the path travels along the East Fork of Mill Creek, through flower-covered meadows and into thick forests. An abundance of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout makes fishing on this portion of the creek excellent.

Dispersed camping is allowed on both trails. Hay certified as weed- and seed-free is required, and riders are encouraged to use leave-no-trace camping principles when in the backcountry. A fishing permit is required if you plan to fish.

Best Riding Season
Take advantage of optimum trail and weather conditions from August through early September.

Flora & Fauna
Riders in the Gallatin National Forest backcountry can glimpse any of several species, including grizzly and black bears, whitetail and mule deer, elk, moose, wolves, river otters, beavers, eagles and hawks. Lodgepole pine, aspen, douglas fir, engleman spruce and white pine are just some of the many varieties of trees found here. They are joined by a host of mountain wildflowers, such as yellow bells, rooster tails, Indian paintbrush, wild geranium, glacier lilies and forget-me-nots.

Riders are encouraged to carry bear-proof containers and bear spray.

• Gallatin National Forest
(406) 587-6701

• Big Timber District
(406) 932-5155

• Bozeman District
(406) 522-2520

• Livingston District
(406) 222-1892


Local Outfitters

• Bear Paw Outfitters
Livingston, Montana
(406) 222-6642

• Black Mountain Outfitters
Emigrant, Montana
(406) 222-7455

• Black Otter Guide Service
Pray, Montana
(406) 333-4362

• Cache Creek Outfitters
Big Sky, Montana
(406) 995-3888

• Elkhorn Ranch
Gallatin Gateway, Montana
(406) 995-4291

• Hell’s A-Roarin’ Outfitters
(406) 848-7578

• Medicine Lake Outfitters
(406) 388-4938

• Nine Quarter Circle Ranch
Gallatin Gateway
(406) 995-4276

• Sixty-Three Ranch
(888) 395-5151

• Slough Creek Outfitters
(406) 222-6642

• Wilderness Pack Trips
(406) 848-9953

Local Attractions
• Livingston Depot Center
(406) 222-2300

• International Fly Fishing Center
(406) 222-9369

• Yellowstone Gateway Museum
(406) 222-4184

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