Bikepacking Near Bozeman, MT - The Paradise Loop

bikepacking near bozeman montana

Bozeman, Montana is a pretty fantastic hub for bike packing and cnyclotouring. Our little town lies in the large Gallatin Valley that is surrounded by mountains. Point your bike pretty much any direction and you are bound to find some beautiful riding. In my time here I have gotten to explore a lot of those places and as more folx begin to find out about this place I have received a lot of questions about places to ride and bike packing routes. This route is a great starting place for an adventure from Bozeman. The “base route” is a 3 night loop with one resupply which in my experience is a pretty “type 1 fun” route thought your experience may vary depending on fitness and experience. One of the reasons I have recommended this route to so many people over the years is that is is easy to make just as challenging or chill as you would like.


bikepacking near bozeman montana

Overview


This route is called the Paradise loop because it takes you from Bozeman through the foothills of the Gallatin range and drops you into the stunning Paradise Valley, the official “Gateway to Yellow Stone”. From there you could add mileage by detouring to the park (The boiling river is a great spot), detouring up the Boulder River Valley, or even just ride to Chico Hot Springs and then ride back for a nice one night credit card tour. This route however goes through the quaint Western town of Livingston, climbs up the backside of the Bangtail Range and then up and over the Bridgers for one final push. The scenery is amazing and the mix of dirt/gravel roads and singletrack are truly world class.

Recommended Gear
Here is where I should add a disclaimer. This is a verrrry rough outline of this route and before going on this route you should prepare yourself with all of the necessary maps, tools and information required for any bikepacking excursion. This route doesn’t stray too far from civilization, but you will be in remote places with no cell phone service and lots of wild animals. Conditions change and the maintenance of some of these roads and trails can be inconsistent. Bear spray is a good idea.

That said, I find this route best suited for tires in the 42mm - 2.5” range. Almost all of it is on dirt road, though there is the option to come down the Bangtail Divide which is single track and pretty rocky at times. Flathead pass can also be quite chunky.

Water sources are usually pretty plentiful, though water in the Bangtails can be tricky to find starting as early as mid-June. I would not recommend planning on this route before July due to snow in the Bangtails, though you can re-route through Clyde park if that is the case.

bikepacking near bozeman montana

The Route

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Day 1
Start in Bozeman. Alter Cycles is a great resource for any last minute bike needs, plus the Wild Crumb across the street is a great spot to grab a snack before you roll out. I usually load up on groceries at Heebs Grocery on the way out of town. You will need to carry at least one night of food and a light breakfast the first day. Take the townie trails out of town, take the railroad grade to Trail Creek road and enjoy one of the most beautiful gravel roads I have ever experienced all of the way out to West Pine Creek. Climb the road until you hit forest service and then help yourself to one of the many gorgeous creek-side camping options with great views of the Absorka range.


bikepacking near bozeman montana

Day 2
Hop on your bikes and cruise Down West Pine Creek to meet back up with Trail Creek road. Take a left there and back track shortly to the intersection with Divide Road. Take Divide all of the way down and stay left to keep on Old Yellowstone Trail. This dirt road eventually links right in to the bike path that will take you all of the way in to downtown Livingston. Here I usually like to grab breakfast at Gil’s before stocking up on groceries for the next two days at the Town & Country grocery. If you roll in a little later, Mark’s In & out is a classic burger stand and well worth the stop. Rumor has it Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in paradise was actually written about a burger in Paradise Valley, so how could you not?

The climb out of Livingston follows Willow Creek Road up the East side of the Bangtail range. This climb is steep at times and pretty consistently up hill. It is also rather exposed and can be very hot in the dead of summer, so plan accordingly. Depending on how you are feeling and how big you want the next day to be there is good camping pretty quickly as you get into USFS land, or you can even climb all of the way up to the top. You will cross cottonwood creek on one of the first switchbacks of the climb - this is often the last water source until you are on the other side of the range, even though there are some seasonal springs and creeks which can be found on USGS maps.


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Day 3
Either finish your climb up the Bangtails or start heading down. It can be a little tricky to navigate to the Bangtail trail in these parts, but generally keep right and TrailForks can be helpful for this too. Ride along the trail to the intersection with Skunk Creek Road and descend on down to Bracket Creek. Take the Bridger Canyon road up the the Battle Ridge trail head and then hop on to the double track. Take Carrol creek all the way up til you connect with Flathead pass and enjoy some nice camping there.

Day 4
Descend down flathead and cruise Rocky Mountain road back into Bozeman!


And so…

Again, this rough route is just a starting point. Do some research, get the maps and make your own adventures. But most importantly have fun out there and be safe!

Johnny's Custom Titanium Mountain Bike

Here is a really nice titanium mountain bike for Johnny over in New York.

We decided to go with a nice stable, modern geometry frame based around the 27.5 plus wheel platform. This is also one of the first titanium frames to feature the Sklar 3D printed chainstay yoke which allows for ample tire and chainring clearance as well as a short rear end.

Johnny topped off the build with a bunch of amazing parts. Pike Ultimate for suspension, SRAM Eagle XX1 drivetrain for super crisp shifting, wheels from Enve, brakes from PAUL and cranks and a headset from White Industries.

Happy trails Johnny!

Learn more about Sklar Custom Titanium Mountain Bikes Here

Greg's Custom Steel Cross Bike

As Greg put it, he wanted something to “conquer the world of Fondo... crush some CX races... get regularly lost on my local Forest Service roads.” I knew it was meant to be. That’s how I ride my bikes and I am excited about what we came up with for Greg.

The custom steel frame is a really sweet blend of Colombus and Vari-wall steel for a ride that is going to be light no doubt, but super responsive and resilient.

Custom geometry is a little hard to classify, but like any custom Sklar, you are getting a tailored fit and ride characteristic within my “design philosophy”. In the case of a bike like this, it means dirt-centric handling. It means designing a geometry from the ground up for the intended riding and rider. These gravel bikes are not cross bikes or road bikes tweaked to ride on dirt, they were conceived for this specific purpose with “shorter” stems (or longer depending on how you look at it), middle trail, lower BB heights and ample tire clearance - especially with the new possibility to pair Sram’s wireless drop bar levers with a 12 speed eagle MTB cassette. So rad.

Anyhow, Greg topped off his build with some really sweet components. The best wheels of all time IMO, the Enve G23’s, a G series fork, stem and bars. A painted to match Sklar Ti seatpost, Shifting from SRAM AXS and bearings from Chris King in that hot matte punch.

This bike goes in the category of dream bike for sure, and I can’t wait to see Greg out there getting it dirty for a long time to come.

Cheers

Custom Steel All-Mountain bike for Blake

Blake is a Bozeman local - After a few year stint in Seattle anyhow. While there Blake got really fast at mountain biking and found out a lot about the bikes he likes to ride. While his full suspension trail bike gets him out a lot of days, Blake wanted a bike that would take him on some of the big Bozeman day rides as well as something he could load up with bags and do some bikepacking on. Of course it had to be fun day to day as well.

I am really excited about this bike because I think it is an awesome balance of all of those things. The steel frame clears up to a 29 x 2.8” tire with Sklar’s 3D printed stainless steel chainstay yoke. The 140mm pike is a great balance of trail capability and all-day pedaling efficiency. The geometry is definitely modern/forward geometry leaning with a 65.5 degree head angle and a 35mm stem. shortish stays keep the wheelbase in check. 1x12 as always with stealth dropper routing. I am excited to see the first set of Santa Cruz Reserve rims come through the shop, they seem like a nice option.

Anyhow, this bike is going to be a ton of fun for Blake. If I only had one bike… this would be it. So capable, so fun, so all around. Happy trails Blake!

Learn more about Sklar Custom Steel Mountain Bikes here

Titanium All-Road 1x12 with SRAM AXS for Dylan

I would not say that this bike blurs any lines, because in the world of custom bicycles, the lines were never really there. Dylan came to me with some goals for his new bike - to get further out onto some backcountry roads in Northern California where he spends most of his time. He needed something more capable than his road bike, but more efficient than his mountain bike. Something that would be up for long days in the saddle and ready to dip its toes into some bikepacking trips.

This bike is dreamy, there is no question. The Titanium frame with clearance for a 1x and 45c tires is topped off with the best wheelset, fork and controls from ENVE, Chris King bearings all around, and that super cool new wireless shifting, SRAM AXS. The road brake/levers paired with a 12 speed MTB Cassette and derailleur means that Dylan gets an impressive gear range while maintaining tire clearance, simplicity and lightweight. This may be the first bike I have sent out this way, but I am certain this is not the last, in fact it is likely the new norm.

Anyhow, This bike is going to be a ton of fun. I know if it were in my garage it could quickly become the one that I grabbed most often, I am a little jealous that it is not.

Happy Trails Dylan!

Learn more about Sklar Custom Titanium All-Road bikes here

Titanium 27.5+ Mountain Bike for Bruce

What can I say about this mountain bike? Not much that it doesn’t say for itself. It is light, fun, clean and capable. A really great trail bike that will handle just about anything Bruce wants to throw at it when it lands at its new home in Oregon. A design we came up with after discussing all of Bruce’s fit dimensions, riding goals, style and preferences.

The Titanium frame is built around a 140mm fork and 2.8”-3.0” 27.5” tires, good proportions at this rider’s size. Paired with some middle-of-the-road forward geometry ideas, this bike is going to feel familiar but more capable than any old school geometry hardtail. A really nice match for the lively ride of Titanium. Sliding dropouts allow for SS use when Bruce is feeling in the mood for that.

The build is topped off with lots of bits from Enve and Chris King, a Shimano drivetrain and Maxxis rubber.

This is a dream bike for sure, and one of those instances where sending it off would be extra hard if it were in my size.

Happy trails, Bruce!

Learn more about Sklar custom Titanium mountain bikes here