Winter seems to be a love-hate kind of season for most. Personally, we love it. All the way until Spring arrives. If you’re unsure what to do outside for the next upcoming weekend, take a read through some of these ideas! Proper gear permitting 😉
Free XC Ski Trails
There are a couple of nearby groomed XC ski trails. Though they are free, please consider donating to keep these trails groomed!
Haggin XC Ski Trails
The Haggin cross country ski trails are only a 30-40 minute drive away located in Anaconda. Trails. You can see views of the Anaconda-Pintler and surrounding mountains. There is a small hut where you can store some items while out on the trails. The hut has a woodstove that makes it extra cozy when roaring!
View Trail Map | Visit the Haggin XC Trails | Learn More
Echo Lake Trails
The Echo Lake trails are about an hours drive from Butte located in Philipsburg. Though the drive is fairly scenic and passes through an area where bighorn sheep pass through frequently. You will also see some great views of Georgetown Lake. You can see some amazing views of the Anaconda-Pintler mountain range on a clear day.
View Trail Map | Visit Echo Lake Trails | Learn More
Close Trail Systems
These trails are great for a variety of outdoor activities. Snowshoeing, skiing, fat biking, etc!
Thompson Park is a fairly large trail system close to Butte. There are plenty of hiking opportunities with several connecting trails. You can come up with a variety of hiking lengths depending on what your preference is for the day. The Old Milwaukee trail features two train tunnels and a trestle bridge. This trail system offers a quick escape into nature for Butte residents.
Visit Thompson Park | View Trail Map | Learn More
Maud S trails are located right next to Butte on the west side of the Continental Divide. The Maud S loop is frequently hiked by locals. This trail is fairly steep, so you may need footgear that can dig into an icy trail at times. At the top, you will see a sign that directs you to continue the loop or you can hike all the way up to the continental divide if you choose! An alternative to climbing to the top of the loop, you can walk along an unused railroad bed. Great views of Butte and the surrounding mountain ranges can be seen from these trails.
Visit Maud S | View Trail Map
Big Butte Open Space Recreation Area
The Big Butte Open Space Recreation Area is a very exposed trail system. You will see great open views of the surrounding mountains, Continental Divide, and Butte itself. You can also hike to the big ‘M’ from this trail system.
Continental Divide Trail Entrances
A wonderful and unique feature to Butte: The city is surrounded on three of its sides by the Continental Divide. There are several entrances to the Continental Divide trail from Butte. The entrances to the south have some great views of the Highlands and surrounding mountain ranges.
Homestake Pass Entrance (Either Side of Highway) | Pipestone Pass Entrance (Either Side of Highway) | Learn More About the CDT
Lewis & Clark Cavern Trails
Lewis & Clark Cavern trails are a great trail system located about an hours drive east in Cardwell. The lower sections are mostly exposed. When you hike further north on the trails you get into more forested terrain. Some views of the surrounding mountains can be seen. It’s important to note that the caverns themselves are not open in winter – you still have access to the other trails though.
*This is a state park which is free for Montana residents but $6 per out of state vehicle.
View Trail Map | Learn More
Hikes With Easy Access in Winter
Accessing trailheads can be hard enough in the summer. When you add winter conditions to the mix, trailheads are even harder to access. Here are a couple of trails we gathered that are easy to get to in winter.
Maud S Canyon Loop
We know this was mentioned in the trail system recommendations, but this is a great hike. The hiking destination here is the top scenic view that looks down on Butte and the surrounding mountain ranges.
Maud S Canyon to the Continental Divide Trail
Similar to above, this hike is definitely a climb with some elevation gain. If you hike up to the CDT, you will get even more views off both sides of the ridge.
Limekiln Hill can be approached in several ways. The two starting points listed on the trail location page are easy to access in winter. If you choose the shorter length version, this actually follows a road up to the top. There isn’t a trailhead marker, but park near the pinpoint and hike up the road.
Humbug Spires should be easy to access in winter. The road isn’t too far from I-15 to the trailhead (~4 miles). The Spires are part of the Boulder Batholith which is a unique highlight to hiking these trails. The spires are actually magma that once extruded the earth’s crust millions of years ago. Over time they became exposed due to the erosion of surrounding soils and vegetation.
Hiking into Hearst Lake is not for the inexperienced. The trailhead is located right next to the town of Anaconda which is roughly a 40-minute drive from Butte. The trail is a ~12-mile round trip hike, and its difficulty varies depending on recent snowfall. If you do come prepared for a 12-mile winter hike, it has gorgeous views of the Pintlers and Hearst Lake, an old reservoir.