Porcupine Creek Trail – Snowshoeing – Big Sky, MT

Porcupine Creek Trail is in Big Sky, Montana. We stayed at the Big Sky Resort so for us it was a 35 minute drive to the trail. We rented snowshoes from Grizzly Outfitters Ski & Backcountry Sports and from there it is only 15 minutes to the trail. Directions from Grizzly Outfitters: take Lone Mountain Trail down the mountain, turn right onto Gallatin Road, and then after 2.7 miles turn left onto Porcupine Creek Road. Parking is free and includes a restroom. In the winter, snowshoeing and dog walking are the primary activities on the trail. In the summer, it is open to mountain biking and horseback riding. Cell phone service was at a medium strength for us.

The Google Map above shows the path we hiked in snowshoes and which includes the most popular loop plus an offshoot along First Creek. We hiked counter-clockwise six miles with an elevation gain of 400 hundred feet, from 6,100 to 6,500 feet. We had a difficult time determining when to make a left turn to head back to the parking lot and, thus, the offshoot represents unnecessary hiking. Afterwards, we studied a map at Grizzly Outfitters and determined that there are two loops that can be hiked. The offshoot represents us starting the larger, outer loop known as the Grizzly Loop for mountain biking. We turned around before completing it because the snow was fresh with no footprints to follow and the steeper grade was fatiguing us. I recommend hiking the shorter, inner loop because it should be easily identified by tracks created by others. The inner loop should be around five miles long with an elevation gain of 300 feet.

porcupine creek elevation chart

The scenery was beautiful but it was a cloudy day so my pictures make it feel gloomier than it really was.

The latter part of the loop has an open landscape that is home to Porcupine Creek. We did not see any wildlife despite several people stating that we would. The creek bed seems like a good place to see wildlife but the middle of day is probably not an ideal time. We talked to a hunter who was part of a group hunting wolf, so wildlife couldn’t have been far away.

There were a handful of trail signs scattered along the way but for the most part we followed tracks from other hikers. The next picture shows one of the trail signs.

We got off the path for the inner loop because we saw trail signs off in the distance. In hindsight, they are probably signs for the larger, outer loop. Instead, look for the sharp left turn seen in the next picture. Also, Lone Mountain should never be out of your line sight for more than 10 minutes.

The following video was taken while on the return half of the inner loop. It features the Porcupine Creek drainage buried in snow and Lone Mountain in the distance.

Since we hiked counter-clockwise, the latter half of the inner loop was along a ridge that sits above the creek. It was fun to finish with a clear view of Lone Mountain in the background.
In sum, snowshoeing on this trail was a treat because it was easy to find and fun to hike. In addition, I recommend renting snowshoes from Grizzly Outfitters because their staff was knowledgeable and friendly. Another fun place to visit nearby is Lone Mountain Ranch, where they maintain groomed cross-country ski trails.
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