Waterfalls with Wally: Grotto Falls, another easy hike near Bozeman
July 31, 2011
The hike to Grotto Falls is 2.5 miles round trip, and the elevation gain is only 250 feet. So, while uphill, it’s a gentle grade. This is a great place to go if you’re new to hiking in Montana, because you get to see splendid views, enjoy the forest and see a pretty waterfall — all without getting out of breath. (Not that I’m against breaking a sweat, but sometimes, an easy hike is nice!) To me, this hike seems a little quieter and less traveled than Palisade Falls, just down the road.
The trail starts out in a scenic meadow framed by beautiful peaks, then goes into a shady forest. Even on a hot day, it’s much cooler up here than it is in town. Just before you reach Grotto Falls, you’ll see a field of stones that hikers have arranged into variously shaped cairns.
The falls itself is a wide spray of white water on the near side with pretty rivulets that trickle down a mossy bank on the opposite side. A great cure for the heat, as Waterfall Adventure Corgi, Wally, will attest!
How to get there:
To get to the trailhead to Grotto Falls, drive 7 miles from Bozeman to Hyalite Canyon Road and continue up the canyon to Hyalite Reservoir, (about 12 miles further). Continue on the road to the east side of the the reservoir, and follow the dirt road along the reservoir for 1.9 miles. You’ll see a parking lot with two outhouses and a sign for the Hyalite Creek trailhead. The trail sign doesn’t mention Grotto Falls: You’ll start along the trail that’s signed for Hyalite Lake* but you’ll soon see a trail sign for Grotto Falls. Keep on the wide trail, following signs to Grotto Falls.
There is no trash receptacle or water at this trailhead, and you may run into mosquitoes and biting flies, so a trash bag, water and mosquito repellent would be good things to bring along.
*Hyalite Lake is a high mountain lake, 11 miles round trip from the Hyalite creek trailhead — not the same thing as the reservoir!
The book, “Day Hikes Around Bozeman,” by Robert Stone, gives a good description and map to this and other hikes in Hyalite Canyon.
“Montana Waterfalls,” by Larry and Nathan Johnson, is a guide book with full color pictures, maps and information about 50 waterfalls in Montana.