Staff Trail Pick: Dan’s NE Side Route

The days are getting shorter but you still want to get out of town on a morning or evening run or bikeride? It’s easy to get from downtown into the woods and open space north of I-90. You’ll also experience some of Bozeman’s early history along the way.

This out and back route starts in the northeast neighborhood and heads north on Ida Avenue. You’ll pass a climbing boulder (one of six scattered throughout Bozeman’s parks and trails!) and the old Northern Pacific railroad station. First built in 1892, the depot was remodeled in 1922 by local architect Fred Willson and had passenger service until 1979. Next to the station get on the short trail through Depot Park and then take a right over the train tracks to connect with the Story Mill Spur Trail across the road. This trail follows the 1883 rail line that led to Nelson Story’s flour mill. You’ll also pass through the middle of the future 55-acre Story Mill Community Park. Emerge on Story Mill Road next to the former cattle auction yards and turn left to go between the popular Stockyard Café and Story Mill. The original mill was built in 1882 and burned down in August 1901. Reconstruction began immediately on the current structure and the large “It’s the Wheat” slogan is still visible on the building’s corrugated metal siding. Continue straight across Bridger Canyon Drive and just past the blacksmith shop follow the trail left. The trail meanders through a residential neighborhood for a half mile before entering East Gallatin Recreation Area.

At this point you can follow a variety of loops through the woods and over the East Gallatin River to Glen Lake (a rehabilitated gravel pit and city dump) and Bozeman Beach. MAP Brewing is on the south side of the lake and has a great patio for taking a short break to enjoy the scenery. In the summer months FLOW Outside operates a neighboring kiosk renting stand-up paddleboards and offering paddleboard lessons, they use best beginner paddle board system around. When you’re ready to keep going, head out the park access road, cross Manley Road and get back on the trail heading west. This will take you out to the Cherry River Fishing Access Site where you can explore a couple more short loops and watch for any birds that haven’t departed the valley yet for warmer climes.

Now it’s time to turn around and head home! Pick up a $3 map from GVLT, various local book and outdoor retailers, or go online with your computer or smartphone for a digital version to help you navigate the Main Street to the Mountains trail system. Distances will vary based on your explorations but it’s approximately two miles one way from the rail depot to East Gallatin Recreation Area and one mile from Glen Lake to Cherry River.