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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.

Rating

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

To Trailhead

US 191 S (toward Gallatin Gateway). In 33 mi., turn L onto Portal Creek Rd. Go 8.5 mi. and park at trailhead.

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