best fall hikes in montana

Things to do in Belgrade, MT: Bike | Hike | Brew

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When you think of a triathlon, you might think of swimming, biking, and running long, hard distances. When I think of a triathlon, I think of an easier, more fun version that involves a couple of my favorite outdoor pursuits and a little beer or cocktail to finish the day. We recently found my version of a triathlon to be three of the fun things to do in Belgrade, MT.

Belgrade may not be top of your mind as the best place to visit in Montana, but there is a lot to recommend it:

While there are lots of things to do in Belgrade, Montana, we spent one day doing three of them.

family hike in Belgrade Montana

Where is Belgrade, Montana?

First off, make sure you add the “Montana” when you look up Belgrade, otherwise you end up with information on Serbia. We spent a day in that Belgrade too.

Belgrade is about six miles west of Bozeman, Montana on I-90. It’s 90 miles north of West Yellowstone on Hwy 191.

Belgrade MT Map

Sidenote: Belgrade got its name as an expression of appreciation to the Serbian investors who helped finance a portion of the Northern Pacific Railroad which runs through the town. There are several towns in Montana that were named that way.

What to Do in Belgrade, Montana

mountain biking in the Bridger Range is one of the Things to do in Belgrade, MT

Biking in Belgrade, Montana 

One of the top Belgrade, MT things to do is to get outside. And with easy access to the Bridger Range, mountain biking was an obvious choice. 

We chose Johnson Canyon Trail, a smooth, flowy, intermediate trail. We aren’t quite intermediate mountain bikers, but we made it work.

The trail starts on Forest Service Road 2512 and climbs up and down, crosses Mill Creek (on a bridge), and tops out before heading down to North Cottonwood Creek. In summer the wildflowers are abundant, and in autumn the trail is colored in yellows, reds, oranges, and browns.

boy mountain biking an easy trail in the Bridgers

You could link this trail with North Cottonwood Creek and make a loop, but that would be more technical and more grunt work than we wanted to do.

I recommend riding four miles up, dropping your bike, and walking to the top of the hill. From there, the views of the Gallatin Valley are impressive. Then ride down the way you came.

best place to visit in montana could be mountain biking through fall foliage near Belgrade

Getting to Johnson Canyon Trailhead

From Belgrade, take Dry Creek Road 6.1 miles to Theisen Road. Turn left and continue 6.4 miles to Cox Road. Turn right and drive 2.2 miles. Turn left on Rocky Mountain Road After 1.3 miles, turn right on Johnson Canyon Road and continue 2 miles to the trailhead.

a family hike is what to do in Belgrade

Hiking in Belgrade, Montana

After riding our bikes back to the car and having a snack, we opted to explore on foot. We headed north from the trailhead toward Flathead Pass Road. The trail dropped through conifers and into a meadow surrounded by autumnally colored ashes and aspens. We crossed Pass Creek and started to climb after Flathead Pass Road. 

There is something about wandering along a trail with no destination or mileage in mind that is so peaceful. We didn’t really care how far we got, or even know what we’d see, but were happy to traipse along together. These are the moments when my family is at its best. With teens, it’s often the time when we have the best conversations.

Again, we quickly found views of the Gallatin Valley and a good look down the Bridger Range. Having already spent our energy on the bike ride, we decided to cut the hike short and enjoy the crisp air, bright colors, and lovely October light.

hiking in the bridgers and three people overlooking hte Gallatin Valley

Getting to Johnson Canyon Trailhead

From Belgrade, take Dry Creek Road 6.1 miles to Theisen Road. Turn left and continue 6.4 miles to Cox Road. Turn right and drive 2.2 miles. Turn left on Rocky Mountain Road After 1.3 miles, turn right on Johnson Canyon Road and continue 2 miles to the trailhead.

Brews in Belgrade, Montana

One of our favorite places to visit in Belgrade is, of course, the brewery. We stopped by Madison River Brewing Company after our bike and hike for a frosty cold beverage.

two people toasting a beer at Madison River Brewing Company in Belgrade MT

They make a large number of beers, but as always, I went for one of the IPAs and Henry had a pale ale. The kids got bottles of root beer. While I think there were other visitors from out of town there, Madison Rive Brewing has a very local feel to it.

If you do frequent the brewery, you can buy a custom glass mug (seen hanging on the far wall in the above photo), that is made by a glassblower in Townsend. Then you’ll always have something pretty to drink your beer out of when you visit.

Restaurants in Belgrade, Montana

Since they don’t serve food at the brewery, we ate at Mint Café and Bar. This has long been a favorite restaurant in the city of Belgrade, MT for us. There isn’t a great vegetarian selection, but if you like meat, you will love this place. It’s fun to sit by the window in the bar and people watch.

neon sign of the Mint Cafe and Bar in Belgrade mt with three people walking under it

If you are looking for breakfast, my favorite spot is the New Day Bakery in a log cabin building. It’s all donuts and pastries, so it’s especially appropriate for preparing for a day of biking and hiking in Belgrade.

We combined our bike-hike-brew triathlon in Belgrade with a bike-hike-brewtriathlon in Three Forks, Montana. When you find something that works, you want to keep doing it! That’s how you know I am a true athlete.

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