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Garnet Mountain

Big Sky + Gallatin River Valley, Montana

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Garnet Mountain

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  • Cross Storm Castle Creek right at the start of the hike.- Garnet Mountain
  • Expect a steady uphill grade under tall forest cover for just over a mile.- Garnet Mountain
  • Stop at the occasional opening in the trees for a break and a view.- Garnet Mountain
  • Take a small detour to an open meadow with an excellent view of Storm Castle Peak.- Garnet Mountain
  • Morning light filtering through the trees lends a magical touch to the scenery.- Garnet Mountain
  • A better vantage point of Storm Castle Peak and the Gallatin Canyon.- Garnet Mountain
  • The trail connects with a dirt Forest Service road.- Garnet Mountain
  • The Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout can be reserved for the night.- Garnet Mountain
  • The Spanish Peaks, a subrange of the Madison Range, are visible from Garnet Mountain.- Garnet Mountain
  • Catch a great view of the Hyalite peaks to the east.- Garnet Mountain
  • The snowcapped peaks of the Gallatin and Madison Range are all around you.- Garnet Mountain
  • There's always a colorful display of wildflowers in the spring.- Garnet Mountain
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Excellent views. Fire lookout. Wildflowers.
Cons: 
Shared parking with Storm Castle Peak.
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Region:
Big Sky + Gallatin River Valley, MT
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Highest point: 
8,245.00 ft (2,513.08 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
Total elevation gain: 
2,820.00 ft (859.54 m)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,425.00 ft (1,653.54 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Garnet Mountain is the less-traveled, longer, and steeper hike compared to its close neighbor, Storm Castle Peak. The haul up to the fire lookout can look (and feel) relentless, but the views at the top are easily worth it!

From the trailhead, immediately cross the bridge over Storm Castle Creek. The trail swings right underneath a thick pine forest. From here on out, a steady uphill climb awaits. Continue on Trail No. 85, making the occasional stop at lookout points over the Gallatin River Canyon. Watch for signs of wildlife on the trail. Deer and grouse are frequent visitors during the spring and fall months.

The trail joins a dirt road 3.5 miles in. Turn left and make the final half mile push to the fire lookout. In the summer, expect light ATV traffic and some loose footing.

When you’re standing on the top of Garnet Mountain, Storm Castle Peak seems far below you. The peaks of Hyalite dominate the eastern horizon, Gallatin Range lies to the south, and the Spanish Peaks loom closely to the west. If you look carefully, you can catch the faint glimmer of the ever popular Lava Lake to your southwest.

With early planning, you may be able to rent the lookout for the night. The cost is $30 for a total of four people. Beds come with a well-used foam pad and are bunkbed style. Weekend availability in the summer and hunting season goes fast.

Alternatively, Garnet Mountain can also be summited from the Rat Lake Trailhead further down Storm Castle Road.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

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(20 within a 30 mile radius)

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