Trust us, you’re going to want to take a hike while in Great Falls, Montana. There are plenty of trails in Great Falls, the immediate area, and throughout Basecamp. The River’s Edge Trail is 53 mile of trail that runs on both sides of the Missouri River and has 13 convenient trailhead parking areas that can accommodate a casual walker to an experienced hiker. Outside of city limits, the River’s Edge Trail continues, and the trails offer stunning views of our diverse landscapes. If you venture out farther, you can enjoy the trails at Sluice Boxes State Park, Memorial Falls, Highwood Mountains, and The Bob Marshall Wilderness. Since day hikes are one of our favorite things to do because it’s a way to get to awesome fishing spots, get the best vantage for nature photography, and connects us to our rich history, we thought we would share some of the best trails.
River's Edge Trail
Just past the Rainbow Falls Overlook
One of our favorite places to see the falls, the South Short Trailhead has areas for mountain bikes, hikers, and an area where your dogs are allowed off leash. If you go there after it rains, expect muddy trails, but we think it just adds to the experience.
Located near Ryan Dam and Ryan Island
The trail near Ryan Dam and Ryan Island offers views of the Missouri River, Highwood Mountains, and takes you back to the days of Lewis and Clark. From the parking lot, you can even see the Ryan Stone building. You can walk miles on this trail, and turn around whenever you would like. For those that want a shorter hike with minimum elevation gain, if you walk a mile in and out, you’ll still have an Instagram worthy experience.
Off of Giant Springs Road near Black Eagle Falls
This section of the River’s Edge Trail is easily accessed and near the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Here, the hiking is minimum, the views are great, and you even get to experience the Art Along the Trail. Take the “hike” around sunset, keep your pup on a leash, and hear the roar of the Black Eagle Falls.
Sluice Boxes State Park
The first parking lot upon entering the park
The lower portion trails barely have any elevation change, and you can hike to Belt Creek and back and the total distance would be about 3 miles. The entire loop is roughly 8 miles, and you can see our mining history during the hike. And a heads-up, your shoes will most likely get wet since you’ll cross Belt Creek roughly four times during your hike.
The second parking lot upon entering the park
The upper level trail access connects to the lower portion, or you can turn around before your descent. The upper trailhead takes you to the cliff edge trail, which is true to its name. But don’t worry, the path is wide, there are trees that border the most of the edge, and it can be done by every level of adventurer, if they aren’t scared of heights!
Venture Outside of Basecamp
A short drive past Sluice Boxes State Park, the adventure continues at Memorial Falls. A short 1-hour loop hike that covers about a mile, the hike at Memorial Falls is a favorite all year round. During the summer, the water freely flows, but in the winter, the waterfall freezes, causing dramatic shapes that beg to be photographed.