Bangtail Divide Late May- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Bangtail Divide Late May

    I might be heading through Montana in a few weeks and around Bozeman area sometime around Memorial Weekend. Is Bangtail clear by then?

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    I've never been on it before but I would guess it won't be clear until sometime in June, due to the heavy snow year this winter. It goes up to around 8000? feet and there is still loads of snow even around 6000 feet in some parts of the mountains. I will let someone from Bozeman weigh in though.

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    I'm not sure about the entire 24 miles ish ride being clear, but it will still be worth it if you are going to be in the area. Trails are just starting to open up, Bozeman didn't receive the amount of snowfall that EVERYONE else seemed to. Bangtails receive significantly less snow than the Bridger range, with warm temps and rain more will open up in the next couple of weeks.

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    https://www.facebook.com/SWMMBAmt/ph...713673/?type=3

    Stone Creek: Good to nearly the last section before the view meadow. There is some horse damage on the lower sections.

    The stretch from Stone to Olson is shady and stays snowy later than Grassy (Olson -> Bracket) which is usually riding by early June, so I'd check back in 2 weeks...

    Homestake Pass area (outside Butte) will be riding then I'd suspect, as folks are saying Beaver Pond/Toll Canyon are already riding...

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    It sounds like Stone Creek melts out pretty early. Having never been on it, how far in is the "view meadow"? I may try to get up that way this weekend.

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    I forget how many miles Stone is to that meadow, probably 3ish?

    Entering Bangtail Divide via Stone is steep so early season I usually ride Grassy Mountain (Olson Logging Road to Bangtail Divide and down to Bracket Creek which is the funnest downhill segment anyways and back on road to car) and it usually dries out earlier than Stone.

    https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/846258

    It snowed (up high) a couple of times over the last few days, and weather.gov suggests 5-9 inches on Grassy Mountain Wednesday/Wednight...

    I'm not sure what's on tap for Sat/Sun but unless that weather system is a complete bust, I'd skip Bangtails this weekend.

    National Weather Service

    Lewis and Clark Caverns have been riding well, and it's both drier there and quicker to dry out, and wildflowers were good last week but the loops are not as fun or long. But they'll get rain not snow from that system and less moisture in general. AND you can call their office to see if trails are dry enough to ride: (406) 287-3541

    National Weather Service

    Looking at the Homestake Cam and that got hit hard by recent snow as well and is calling for 5-11 inches on Wednesday

    National Weather Service

    SCAN WebÂ*6.0 - Camera

  7. #7
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    IIRC, the "view meadow" is about 7 miles from the pavement on Bridger Canyon Road, so about 5.5 from the actual trailhead. It's a great out-and-back ride and I just spoke to a friend this weekend who has been riding it.

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    made it about 5 miles up last night, trail was clear and could have kept going. lots of rain today and more coming tomorrow, but it should dry out after a few days of sun. the upper part of the trail was fantastic. lower sections needs a little love, but overall in really good condition.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the reports. I'll be in the Bozeman area late next week. I guess I'll give ie a go even if just as an out and back. Any idea how the middle and northern sections are with snow?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat32 View Post
    Any idea how the middle and northern sections are with snow?
    They're unrideable when they have snow.

    There's a couple sections where snow drifts form and you usually need to dismount and carry your bike over them - those drifts last until about mid to late June.

    It's snowing in town right this second with up to a foot forecast for elevations as high as the Bangtails. You might get lucky by late next week but have some backup plans too.

    I wonder if it's worth skiing Bridger tomorrow?

  11. #11
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    Any updates on rideable trails near Bozeman? Has anything melted out recently and is rideable?

    It seems the following trails should be rideable :
    Leverich
    Stone Creek - partway at least
    Garnet Mountain
    Bozeman Creek to Mystic Lake should be good soon?
    Middle Cottonwood

    Anything else?

  12. #12
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    My friend rode Corbly Gulch on Sunday and said it was good. I'm going to check out Stone CK after work tonight. Sypes usually dries out early too.

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    Sypes Canyon was clear of snow yesterday (5/22) but the gulch and the N. facing switchbacks were wet and muddy from the snowmelt. Could be very good today though!

    Before this last storm, Middle Cottonwood was dry for the first ~2 miles, then snowy and impassable.

    Heard Stone was good up to the last couple switchbacks but that was before last week's snow.

    It would be nice to have a few more options though! Already sick of Leverich.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joewoj View Post
    Already sick of Leverich.
    I find a good strategy is to avoid Leverich except for the months between MSU's spring and fall semesters.

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    Stone is good up to the last sharp left hand switchback below the "view meadow" (the one with the barbed wire fence. That is 6 miles from the pavement at Bridger Canyon Rd. From there, there are at least a few snowy patches that would be easy to walk through but I didn't see the point and turned around there. My guess is that the meadow is clear until you enter that section of short pine trees on it's other side.

    The trail is in pretty good shape although I noticed some new ruts forming in places the rocks continue to grow on the bottom section - probably just a few years until that part looks more like the Brackett Ck side.

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    Middle Cottonwood is riding great. That is, if you don't mind wet and cold feet from the creek crossings. There's one small snow patch and that's it. I stopped just above the newish switchbacks in the upper meadow. The central gully of the north west side of Bridger Peak still looks like it would be great skiing!

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    My coworker just drove down from his cabin above Kelly Canyon - they got 3" of snow at his place last night. Probably going to be a muddy weekend in the Bangtails if it doesn't get sunny soon.

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    Planning on riding Bozeman Creek to Wall of Death to Mystic Lake Saturday. If everything is clear up to the lake I'm gonna check out some of the other trails up there by the lake. I'll let you know how that goes.

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    The ride went well today. Rode Bozeman Creek to Wall of Death to the lake then up to the ridge top of New World Gulch then down the other side of Mystic Lake and down Bozeman Creek Road instead of the wall of death again. Still a few wet spots up by the lake but overall really nice.

    We are thinking about trying the full Bangtail next Saturday. If anyone goes up there this week let me know. It's supposed to be sunny and warm all week so we are hoping it may be rideable next week.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for all the feedback. I ended up skipping Bangtail and passed through Helena and did a ride up there. I climbed Grizzly Gulch and rode down Helena Ridge and made a loop connecting some of the lower trails for about 18 miles. Helena Ridge is beautiful and had an amazing display of wild sunflowers and some lupines. My only complaint is the trails in the Helena Park were poorly marked which was frustrating at times. A lot of intersections but no signage and some trail name changes apparently but good riding.
    I ended up doing some snow climbing in the Gallatins when in Bozeman instead of the riding which was also wonderful.

  21. #21
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    is bangtail doable for mortals, as a loop? I have my annual Fairmont trade show trip the end of june, and was thinking of nocking this one out.

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    Yep, Tim. Quite doable. I take lots of breaks and do it in 6 hours as a loop. Park at the upper trailhead (Brackett Creek) and ride down the road to Stone Creek in the early morning. That way you get the best views riding the trail north, and the great Grassy Mountain downhill to the car.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  23. #23
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    tim08--you'll be just fine, it is a solid "intermediate" level ride, one of the reasons it is so popular. while the mileage is long, there aren't any sections that you will feel you need to hike a bike. In short...since you can ride an elk out, you can do the bangtail divide trail.

  24. #24
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    Awesome. You guys are really making me wanna ride it! I planned on doing it this weekend but I got a promotion at work and won't be able to. Next weekend it is!

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    sweet, good to hear, i like exploring new to me terrain.

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    i rode up the bracket creek side last night, made it about 4 mile--ish before snow was thick. trails a little beat up on that side, but still riding very good.

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    Really? Still not rideable all the way yet huh?

  28. #28
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    My son did Bangtail on Saturday (6/3) and his only comment (being a man of few words) was "should have brought snow shoes"...
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  29. #29
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    We rode it yesterday and there was only one section that had any significant snow on the trail. The Black Forest, another rider called it. It's the north facing descent about 11 miles in from Stone Creek. Had to walk through quite a few piles of snow on the upper portion but got out of it pretty quick. Amazing ride overall. The Brackett Creek descent from Grassy Mountain was A+.

  30. #30
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    i always get enchanted forest and black forest mixed up. with the warm weather and rain, snow is going away fast. thanks for the update.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleboz View Post
    i always get enchanted forest and black forest mixed up. with the warm weather and rain, snow is going away fast. thanks for the update.
    I guess there's a couple spots that would warrant such names but the place I'm thinking of has been referred to by a few different ones.

    - Enchanted Forest
    - Half Hour Hill
    - Ewok Forest
    - Black Forest (that's new to me)

    Take your pick. Somebody should just decide what they like best, post a sign, and wait for the other names to fade into history.

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    ha! i thought ewok was the one on the downside bracket; enchanted is more towards Stone Creek. At least thats what my group has called them.
    reminds me of when Bridger started posting more signs for their runs....DRCS...ohh thats what it is actually called.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleboz View Post
    reminds me of when Bridger started posting more signs for their runs....DRCS...ohh thats what it is actually called.
    I wonder when the "Skittles" sign showed up. It looks old but I only noticed it two seasons ago.

  34. #34
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    Rode it yesterday, sweet ride

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