Pine Creek Falls, Montana

Pine Creek Falls Montana (5)

Pine Creek Falls in June 2014

When I visited Montana and Wyoming in 2014, I visited a number of Wyoming waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. In Montana, I was able to visit two waterfalls on the way from Bozeman and back. The first, Ousel Falls, is outside of Big Sky. The second, Pine Creek Falls, is a bit more isolated and off the beaten path. (As the crow flies, these waterfalls are about 45 miles apart. In reality, the drive between the two is much longer.

I visited this one on the way back from Yellowstone. I exited Yellowstone from the north entrance, heading along US-89 toward Livingston. The roads and trails to the falls are not wildly far off of US-89, and the drive to the falls was stunningly beautiful. US-89 hugs the Yellowstone River for much of the drive. After veering off US-89 to get to the campground and trail head, there was some driving down some forest roads. I don’t remember them being particularly problematic, but it was four years ago.

I also don’t remember the hike to the falls being particularly difficult. It was in a mountainous area, so there was some elevation climb, I’m sure. I usually remember if the elevation climb is steeper, and this one doesn’t ring a bell. (The elevation change is listed at 390′ gain over 1.25 miles, so it is not wildly steep, but still will some uphill climb.) The trail head had a few other cars, with a few other people, including one larger family, hiking the trail. The hike to the falls was beautiful, though I tried to stay nearby others. (You should be aware of bears and another animals in the area.) Overall, it’s definitely a worthwhile hike to get a quick burst of Montana beauty a bit further from the busy Yellowstone trails.

Directions:

  1. I would take a look at a map of US-89 in Montana to get an idea of the best road to turn on to get to the falls. One option would be to turn onto Pine Creek Road, and head east on it.
  2. Turn right on MT-540, East River Road, and head south for a few miles.
  3. Turn left on Luccock Park Road, which is the forest road. Head east on this to the end of the road, which will be the start of the trail head and also where you’ll find the campground.

Accessibility: 7/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Height: 100′
Length of Hike: 2.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Pine Creek Falls?

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Ousel Falls, Montana

These past few days, I’ve been visiting Yellowstone National Park, which is mostly in Wyoming. I flew into Bozeman, Montana, though, and decided to see if I could find any waterfalls in Montana on my way to the park. I found two easy-to-visit waterfalls, one on the way there, and one on the way back.

Ousel Falls was the first of the falls I visited along my journey, and it was an easy visit. It is just a few miles off of US-191 (which I felt was the much easier way to access Yellowstone from Bozeman). When you turn to head to Big Sky, you’ll pass through a surprisingly nice residential and recreation area. (It was more “built up” than I was expecting.)

After arriving at the trailhead, it’s a 3/4 mile hike to the falls. It isn’t extremely difficult, though it isn’t flat, consistently uphill, or consistently downhill. It’s more of a “roller coaster” hike ranking on the easier side of moderate. There are two views of the falls. One of the views shows the upper “drop” more clearly. The view at the base of the falls reveals much of the beautiful rock surrounding the falls. Either of these produce great photos, and there’s a picnic area at the base. This is definitely a worthwhile detour while heading to Yellowstone, and you’ll even find some nice restaurants in the Big Sky resort area.

(And an ousel is a kind of bird. A waterfall in Colorado, Ouzel Falls, is also named after the bird, just with a different spelling.)

Directions:

  1. Head south along US-191 from Bozeman (or from Belgrade, which is nearer the airport).
  2. After 40 miles or so, turn right onto MT-64 and head toward Big Sky. You’ll drive for two or so miles through residential areas, restaurants, shops, and a golf course
  3. Then turn left (more like veer left) onto Ousel Falls Road. Drive until you reach the Ousel Falls Trailhead, which will be on your left. There’s a big sign!
  4. Start the hike to the falls!

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 55′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

Ousel Falls in June 2014

Ousel Falls in June 2014

Where in the World is Ousel Falls?