"The best view comes after the hardest climb" ~ Unknown
Hiking in the region of Bozeman, Montana can provide you with a plethora of trails. Storm Castle Peak trailhead, which is located around 40 minutes south of Bozeman, is one of the many. With an elevation gain close to 2000 feet and length of 5.2 miles roundtrip, storm castle makes for a great workout with outstanding views from the peak during any point of the year.
My first jaunt to the top of storm castle peak was during the summer of 2021, August to be more exact. Many if not all of the best hikes in Montana include inclines, and this short yet strenuous hike is no different. I hate inclines, I despise inclines, but I always know at the end of an incline, usually awaits the most spectacular views. The entire trail makes it way up, as it snakes its way through the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Around the two mile mark, you begin to switchback upwards until the last mile. The home stretch leads you through a forest of trees, as you make your way pass the keyhole. This geological formation caused by the magical forces of earth, gives you a scenic view of the Gallatin Mountain Range to the east. A few more yards up the trail will lead you to the actual peak. A narrow ledge overlooks highway 191, giving you sweeping views of the mountains and valleys seen in the distance. I was lucky enough that the smoke from nearby fires had dissipated for the day, leaving me with clear skies and a furry friend to enjoy the moment with.
Towards the end of December, I decided to make my way up to Storm Castle Peak again, as the snow added a new ambiance to the environment. The gate to the trail head was still open, so the hike remained at a modest 5.2 miles. Micro-spikes attached, I once again began the consistent climb to the top. At about the 1.2 mile mark, an overlook awaits to the right, which provides a nice spot to rest and take in the views. The trail remains relatively used during the winter as well, so the snow was packed pretty much to the top. A small stretch led me through ankle deep snow, but not enough to hinder me from making it to the peak and stopping by the aforementioned keyhole. Once on top, I settled in and enjoyed the same views which I was afforded back in August. This time though, the landscape below was blanketed in powder white, as the sky exploded into a majestic blue. The photo of Storm Castle Peak below, is available for print in a variety of sizes and products by clicking on it.
Once again I visited Storm Castle in early February and late March, this time with the forest road gate being closed both times. This would add an additional 3 miles onto the 5.2 mile trip. The February hike wound up being shared with a local group from Billings/Bozeman. My March excursion found me hitting the trail alone. I was hoping to catch the sunrise from the key hole, but a late start and overcast skies found me mid mountain at just about sunup. A grey sky with a pink hue would await me about a mile into the trail. When I finally reached the top, I had the peak to myself. Seeing storm castle transition through the seasons is something many don't get to experience and I'm blessed to be living just a short 30 minute drive away. A drive that allows me to pass it every time I leave and return to my not so hidden mountain home.
For more hiking in Big Sky, Montana, click on my Life Out There blog post entitled: Beehive Basin.
For more inspirational tales, thoughts and photography visit me on instagram: @ryan.j.drewes
Be sure to subscribe to my EMAIL list so you can receive photos not published in my blog posts, updates on new fine art photography prints listed for sale, and news that that non-subscribers won't receive. You can subscribe by clicking the link here: Subcribe.
Lastly to browse more Montana landscape photography prints, please browse my Landscape Photography Prints by clicking here: Landscape Photography Prints.