Hiking Boots or Running Shoes?


Summer is just about here!  Finally, it’s time cabin fever breaks into the great outdoors and, as my neighbor says, “Just put your shoes on!”.

One of my favorite activities is exploring around Porcupine Creek in the Gallatin National Forest.  The trailhead is less than 5 minutes from the Big Sky Visitor Center, just 2.7 miles south on Highway 191.  The beauty of Porcupine Creek is that it offers trails for all levels of walkers, hikers and runners. It is dog-friendly year-round and horse & mountain bike friendly after June 15th.  My dilemma, however, is which footwear to choose?

Okay, my reality is to wear hiking or walking boots.  Meandering along an open meadow, stopping often to identify the wildflowers, look for unusual rocks, listen to the creek and birdsong, or notice wildlife tracks is perfect.  Keeping up with a kindergartner is about my speed.  A walk can cover a lazy mile or spirited 5-mile loop. The trail starts with a shaded path and short bridge over the creek and widens to a breath-taking expanse of alpine meadow.  The loop incline is an easy/moderate 465 ft.  Scenery, including a silhouette of Lone Mountain, amazes hikers and photographers alike.

However, in my wildest dreams, running shoes would be the choice.  Porcupine is a runner’s ideal training ground.  Stretch out those legs and run like wind!  The trail’s easy warm-up mile turns to the Grizzly Loop, a 6.5-mile trek climbing up and around a large Aspen tree grove.  From the top of the loop, the panorama opens exposing more trails and creeks for back country exploration. (Note to self, next trip bring a backpack!)   It’s a good idea to run with companions and to carry bear spray on this adventure.  Runners’ favorite route is a 12.5 distance which starts by the 320 Ranch about 12 miles south of the Big Sky at the Buffalo Horn Creek trailhead.  This path goes to Ramshorn Lake and back via Porcupine Creek.  My running dream includes a quick, refreshing dip in the lake.   A great workout and pure outdoor athletic experience!

For more information about Big Sky area activities, call us at the Big Sky Visitors Center (406) 995-3000 or visit Home – Big Sky Chamber of Commerce

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