We love taking in the scenery of Southeast Montana in different ways: from the road, the air or hiking across the terrain. Biking is another way to weave through the trails and gain new perspective of the land. Some areas have paved trails, while others are dirt roads, with steeper and more difficult topography.
We know biking isn’t the same for everyone. For some, it’s a family activity with the kids. Others take it to the max with mountain biking (seriously, it’s considered an extreme sport).
Bring your bike(s), or gear up at one of the local stores and get tips from the experts. We also suggest that you check weather conditions before heading out – some of these trails are in remote locations with little to no cell service.
The Acton Recreation Area is perfect for those looking for a little (or a lot) of adventure. Just north of Billings, the area is operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There are 13 miles of trails spread throughout the 3,800 acres. Seven different options are available, ranging from intermediate to difficult. Try your hand at one of the more popular trails, Roller Coaster (considered difficult) which has new berms and jumps for the most adventurous. If you’re looking to ease into some of these rides, the Tumbleweed (intermediate) trail might be your best bet. Check out a map of the area and full list of trails here.
Hit the trails in Montana’s Trailhead. There are nearly 50 miles of paved/hard surface and dirt trails in Billings, and even more options when you count in all the city parks. And, the city of Billings has made it easy for you to find your path. A brand new app called Billings Heritage Trails offers a digital view of all the options around town. Explore the banks of the Yellowstone River while biking at Two Moon or Riverfront parks. Or take in 70 million years of history on the Rimrocks (known as the Rims to locals) at Zimmerman Park, Swords Rimrock Park and Phipps Park, where you’ll catch panoramic views of Montana’s largest city.
When we said dirt roads with difficult terrain, we weren’t kidding. The Calypso Trail in the Terry Badlands Wilderness Study Area is all that and more. This area is also managed by the BLM and because of its designation as a WSA, off-roading isn’t allowed. The trail will take you through hills and valleys, offering scenic views of the colorful, banded cliffs, spires and buttes. Bring a high clearance vehicle when heading to this spot, as the road can be difficult to navigate without one, and make sure the roads are dry, as the clay quickly become impassable with precipitation.
CUSTER GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST
Southeast Montana plays host to more than 524,000 acres of the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Two districts are situated in Southeast Montana, the Ashland and Sioux districts. Head to a spot the locals love, dubbed “The Rims” in the Sioux district near Ekalaka where you’ll find a dirt road perfect for trail riding. Sweeping prairies will be spread out before you. Bring a picnic and stop for lunch in between your hours of exploration.
MAKOSHIKA STATE PARK
Trails and trails galore – that’s one of the reasons we love Makoshika State Park. More than 11,000 acres of badlands are part of Montana’s largest state park south of Glendive. Ride the trails and put yourself in the shoes, or tracks, of the dinosaurs that traversed the land millions of years ago. We suggest checking out the Vista, Ponderosa or Paramount trails to start. Visit the park’s website to find a trails map to see which ones are designated for cycling. Make a weekend out of it and stay at one of the campgrounds in the park or choose from the lodging options in Glendive.