Mountain Biking the Bangtail Divide Trail

Mountain Biking the Bangtail Divide Trail, Bozeman, Montana

With beautiful scenery and sweet singletrack, Bozeman, Montana’s Bangtail Divide Trail absolutely lives up to it’s IMBA Epic designation.

Chris & Mac of Grey Otter Outventures

Chris & Mac
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Length:  22.8 Miles
Trailhead(s):  Stone Creek Trailhead
Elevation Gain:  4,190′
Trail Type:  Point to Point
Dogs:  Allowed
Difficulty:  Trail is rated Intermediate, but due to altitude and elevation gain many riders will find the ride difficult. 
Permit Required?  No
Considerations:  IMBA Epic Trail; Shuttle (preferred) or Loop
Season:  Late Spring to Fall


With beautiful scenery and sweet singletrack, Bozeman, Montana’s Bangtail Divide Trail absolutely lives up to it’s IMBA Epic designation.

Why is Mountain Biking the Bangtail Divide Trail so Amazing?

23 miles of high altitude backcountry riding on flowy singletrack with outstanding mountain views – what more could one ask for?  If you love backcountry riding and don’t mind pushing yourself to experience a great ride, you’re going to have a blast mountain biking the Bangtail Divide Trail.

Shuttle the Bangtail Divide Trail or Ride as Loop?

This article is based on shuttling the Bangtail Divide Trail starting the ride at the Stone Creek Trailhead and riding the trail south to north, ending at the Bracket Creek Trailhead.  This is the direction the vast majority of riders choose to do this ride.  It is also possible to ride this trail as a loop, if you have the strength.

At 22.8 miles end to end, the Bangtail Divide Trail is a big mountain bike ride for most riders.  This is particularly true because you will be riding between 5,800 and 7,910′ in altitude the entire way, while experiencing a total elevation gain of 4,190′.  Although it is possible to do this ride as a loop, most people will want to shuttle it.

If you feel you have the legs and the strength to ride the Bangtail Divide Trail as a loop, you will add 8.2 miles to your ride.  From the Bracket Creek Trailhead you would take MT-86 S to a left on Stone Creek Road ending at the Stone Creek Trailhead.  Trust me, though, those additional 8.2 miles are going to feel like a lot more after finishing the Bangtail Divide Trail.

To ride the Bangtail Divide Trail as a shuttle, you would start the ride at the Stone Creek Trail, then ride to the Bracket Creek Trailhead where you either left a car or have someone waiting to pick you up.  This is how most people choose to ride the Bangtail Divide Trail.

Mountain Biking the Bangtail Divide Trail

The full Epic Bangtail Divide Trail is made up of four segments – the Bangtail Divide South, Connector, Central, and North.  All four segments flow into each other and following the trail is not difficult, but using the Trailforks app makes it a piece of cake.

Starting at the Stone Creek Trailhead, the Bangtail Divide Trail begins with a series of switchbacks.  In the first 4.5 miles, you will climb from 5,800′ to 7,750′.  There is no sugar coating this one, it’s a hefty climb, particularly given the altitude.  Just settle into your climbing rhythm and enjoy the views.

After making the initial climb, you will reach a plateau with fantastic views of the Bridger and Crazy mountains.  The plateau is wide open with a ribbon of singletrack as far as you can see.

At the other end of that ribbon of singletrack, the Bangtail Divide Trail enters a wooded area with some fun descents and a little climbing. From here you will travel in and out of meadows and trees until you reach the final big climb at Grassy Mountain.

After reaching the top of Grassy Mountain, the Bangtail Divide Trail becomes a downhill for the next 4.1 miles with a descent of 1,637′.  Strap yourself in, lay off the brakes, and enjoy this awesome downhill with some great switchbacks.  Before you know it, you will reach the Brackett Creek Trailhead and the end of the Bangtail Divide Trail.

Concluding Thoughts about the Bangtail Divide Loop

The Bangtail Divide Trail truly earns its designation as an IMBA Epic trail.  I am a huge fan of backcountry riding and the backcountry feel of this trail, together with outstanding views, almost solid singletrack for 22.8 miles, great climbing, and sweet downhills, makes the Bangtail Divide Trail one to seek out if you are anywhere near Bozeman, Montana.  Enjoy and outventure on!

Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.

Additional Information (Click below to follow links.)

Bangtail Divide Trail Slideshow

(Click image to expand.)

Trailforks Interactive Trail Map:

Gear We Use for Mountain Biking

To see descriptions of the gear Chris & Mac use for mountain biking, as well as links to manufacturers and retailers offering the gear for sale, please CLICK HERE.

Pine Creek Lake Trail, Livingston, Montana

Articles About Other Regional Outventures

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SAFETY DISCLAIMER:  The activities discussed in this website are outdoor activities and, as such, have inherent risks to which participants are exposed.  It is not the intent of this website, nor is it possible due to the variability of weather, terrain, equipment, and experience, to detail all of those risks.  The information contained in this site is informational, but not instructive nor exhaustive.  It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure he/she is in good health, fully prepared, and fully informed as to dangers before undertaking any of the activities discussed in this website and the user does so at his/her own risk.  The user understands that by using this website he/she acknowledges and accepts all risks associated with use of information from this website and participation in any particular activity addressed herein.  Please see “Terms of Use” for additional information.

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