The route to Mount Ellis is a sure calf stretcher that offers striking panoramic views of Gallatin Valley and five mountain ranges. The trailhead for this hike is not far from the historical Fort Ellis, an important military outpost active in the Montana Territory from 1867 through 1886.
The trail cuts through open grazing land for a third of a mile before entering forested state land. The next mile and a half gently switchback up the north face of Mount Ellis, with great views of the Gallatin Valley to the north and west. The limestone ridge of Chestnut Mountain dominates your eastern view.
Over 2.25 miles in the trail leaves the doubletrack road and sneaks off to a defined but brushy foot trail that climbs steeply to Lower Mount Ellis. The view at the top might just leave you breathless – literally. Find a comfortable rocky outcropping to take it all in. The city of Bozeman lies immediately below you. The Bridgers rise majestically to your north. The Crazies can be seen in the far distance to your northeast. The Absaroka Range and Paradise Valley peak out over the northern foothills of the Gallatin Range. The upper peak of Mount Ellis is another 1.4 miles across the saddle to the south. The beautiful forested canyons of the Gallatin Range roll almost endlessly to the southwest, culminating in the jagged Spanish Peaks. The Tobacco Roots are just a tick over on the eastern horizon.