Bozeman: The Sentinel via Windy Pass Trail

Climb the rocky guardian of the northern Gallatin Range on this 10-mile out-and-back to a skyline full of lofty pinnacles.
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Climb the rocky guardian of the northern Gallatin Range on this 10-mile out-and-back to a skyline full of lofty pinnacles.

From the east end of the parking lot, follow Windy Pass Trail to the east (ignore the logging road, also labeled as Windy Pass Trailhead). The forested path descends to the right, curving down to a gentle mountain creek; cross the creek on rocks, then continue heading east. After 1.2 miles, a moderate climb begins through dense forest. Roughly half a mile later, bear left at a Y-junction and climb into alpine meadows, passing the rustic Windy Pass Cabin. Just past the cabin, bear right at another trail fork and climb the broadly sloping ridge that rises to the north. Stop every now and then to admire the snow-brushed Spanish Peaks to the northwest.
Less than 3 miles into the hike, the route crests the top of the ridge and veers to the northwest. As you gradually ascend through meadows riotous with wildflowers, neighboring peaks come closer to eye level and unobstructed views of the rugged Gallatin Range fill up the horizon. The trail curves to the northeast near mile 4 for the final, 1-mile stretch to The Sentinel's 9,945-foot summit. Drop your pack at the top and gaze at the mountains that stretch for miles around this boot-shaped peak. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Trung Q. Le

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 16.1

Waypoints

SEN001

Location: 45.2583345, -111.1272669

Follow Windy Pass Trail, starting from the east end of the lot (don't confuse with gravel logging road on the south end, also labeled Windy Pass Trailhead).

SEN002

Location: 45.2583345, -111.1250997

Forested path descends to the right, curving down to a gentle mountain creek; use rocks as stepping-stones to cross.

SEN003

Location: 45.2603736, -111.1116242

Moderate climb through dense forest.

SEN004

Location: 45.2623521, -111.1025906

Bear left @ Y; trail climbs into alpine meadows.

SEN005

Location: 45.2650858, -111.1014748

Pass rustic Windy Pass Cabin; bear right @ Y toward The Sentinel.

SEN006

Location: 45.2703563, -111.095767

Stop and admire the snow-brushed Spanish Peaks to the northwest.

SEN007

Location: 45.2738596, -111.0945225

Bear left @ Y; unobstructed views of rugged Gallatin Range.

SEN008

Location: 45.2782234, -111.0990286

Ascend gradually through meadows riotous with wildflowers, as neighboring peaks come closer to eye level.

SEN009

Location: 45.2824208, -111.1039639

Viewed from an unnamed peak, The Sentinel dominates the northeast skyline; in other directions, see a galaxy of stunning peaks.

SEN010

Location: 45.2910108, -111.1027622

Trail curves to the northeast; only 1 mile remains of gradual ridgeline climb.

SEN011

Location: 45.2979091, -111.0907459

More mountains stretch for miles around The Sentinel's boot-shaped peak (9,945 ft.). Yellowstone National Park sits to the south.

Snowy Peaks

Location: 45.2786009, -111.0996294

©Trung Q. Le

Windy Pass Cabin

Location: 45.2651009, -111.1012387

©Trung Q. Le

Distant Peaks

Location: 45.2757169, -111.0963035

©Trung Q. Le

Expansive Views

Location: 45.2769551, -111.0973978

©Trung Q. Le

Lone Mountain

Location: 45.2777553, -111.0982561

©Trung Q. Le