Lava Lake, photo by

The following article is sponsored by Visit Big Sky

If you want to get off the beaten path, grab your hiking boots and head to Big Sky, Montana. Big Sky sits smack dab in the middle of the Madison Range - a mountain range that features hundreds of miles of trails, numerous trailheads, countless peaks, and not many people at all. It's wild.

In 1983, Congress created the Lee Metcalf Wilderness - a protected area within the Madison Range. The Lee Metcalf Wilderness spans 254,288 acres (1,029 square kilometer) over four separate wilderness parcels: Spanish Peaks, Bear Trap Canyon, Monument Mountain, and Taylor-Hilgards. This mountainous wilderness and the surrounding national forest, and Yellowstone National Park seem to go on forever. It offers up a lifetime of hiking adventures.

Taylor Hilgards, photo by

Wilderness means that no motorized or mechanized vehicles, including bicycles, can enter this terrain. It's a hiking paradise for anyone that likes easy access to glacially carved basins filled with colorful wildflowers, picture perfect alpine lakes, rocky peaks stretching skyward to over 11,000', thick and vibrant forests, and abundant wildlife. It's like something out of a coffee table book.

A lifetime of hiking trails criss-cross this stunning landscape. There's an adventure for people from all walks of life. You can find mellow day hikes, epic summits, or multi-day backpacking trips. Wherever you go, keep your eyes peeled and you might spot mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, wolves, or even a grizzly bear.

Beehive Basin, photo by

Staring at the expansive map of the mountains, lakes, and trails around Big Sky can be overwhelming. There are almost too many options to choose from. Start with these classic day hikes:

Beehive Basin - 7 Miles Round Trip, 1625' Elevation Gain - Beehive Basin has been called one of the world's 10 best hikes. It is a prime access point to the Spanish Peaks unit of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. This absolutely stunning hike starts at 7900' and meanders through meadows covered in wildflowers and ends at a gorgeous alpine lake beneath a pristine rocky cirque.

Lava Lake - 6 Miles Round Trip, 1600' Elevation Gain - Lava Lake is a 47 acre lake nestled into the Cascade Creek valley. The hike begins just north of Big Sky in the Gallatin Canyon and travels west along Cascade Creek gaining elevation through lodgepole forests. Buy a Montana fishing license and bring your fishing rod. You might be able to catch cutthroat, rainbow, or brook trout.

Bear Basin, photo by

Bear Basin - 12 Miles Round Trip, 2400' Elevation Gain - Starting at the North Fork Trailhead, the day hike into Bear Basin follows the North Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River. The easy to follow trail climbs through forested terrain until you pop out in to Bear Basin - a beautiful glacially carved alpine basin filled with wild rock formations and colorful wildflowers. With no one else around, it's the perfect place to spend the day.

Big Sky is the ideal base camp for your wilderness hiking adventures. This place is every hiker's dream destination. After a few hikes, you'll see why the locals want to keep it all to themselves.

Visit Big Sky this summer. Lace up your boots, grab your camera, and bring the bear spray. You're going to love it here.