After spending our first few days in Montana showing Pat the local highlights, we set out to accomplish an important goal: taking him up into the mountains that he’d been oohing and aahing at since his arrival.
My mom and sister had previously hiked to Beehive Basin and very much enjoyed it, so we decided this would be our destination. The four of us set out under cloudy skies and found ourselves getting drizzled on periodically throughout the day, but we refused to let a little rain dampen our enthusiasm.
The trailhead for Beehive Basin is located along Beehive Basin Road in Big Sky, Montana. There isn’t much of a parking lot, but we managed to find a space. Much of the area along the road and the beginning of the trail is private property, so do be mindful of where you park and walk to avoid fines.
Or, you know, angry Montanans with guns.
Anyway, the hike itself is moderately steep; having come from sea level just four days earlier, Pat and I were a little worried about our lung capacity, but we managed just fine. The majority of the hike is wide open, a narrow trail that cuts through fields of wildflowers as it ascends to Beehive Basin. The trailhead itself is at 8000 feet (2450 m) so we were near or above tree line for much of the hike.
Other than that… well, I don’t really have much else to say. I think the photos speak for themselves.
On our way out of Big Sky, we took a short detour up Ousel Falls Road for the 1.6 mile (2.6 km) round-trip hike to Ousel Falls. This is a fairly easy and well-maintained trail, so it was a quick hike. For those hoping to see a pretty decent waterfall without expending a huge amount of effort – this is the hike for you!
Ousel Falls is named for the ousel, otherwise known as the American dipper, otherwise known as a bird. We didn’t actually see any ousels there, but earlier in the summer they’re apparently very abundant.
The Important Stuff:
- Getting there: Big Sky is located off of US Highway 191 in the Spanish Peaks. The trailhead for Beehive Basin is on Beehive Basin Road, about 20 minutes from Highway 191 (probably best to just map this, it’s a steep, twisty route). The Ousel Falls trailhead is off Lone Mountain Trail on Ousel Falls Road, about 10 minutes west of Highway 191
- Fees & passes: none
- Camping: there are many campgrounds – forest service and private – along Highway 191 in the Big Sky area
- Hiking: Beehive Basin – 6.5 miles (10.5 km) round-trip, moderate but at high elevation (starting altitude: 8000 feet/2450 m, gains 1200 feet/370 m); Ousel Falls – 1.6 miles (2.6 km) round-trip, easy
- Other: Because Big Sky is best known for its luxury homes and ski resorts, it’s easy to forget that it’s surrounded by wilderness. This is grizzly bear country, and the weather is often unpredictable… always be prepared!