The Wild West around Billings is crisscrossed with hiking trails--no surprise for such a great outdoor destination. Besides just enjoying the clean country air and the wide-open spaces, there are historically exciting places to explore, like the remnants of the Smith Mine disaster or Pompeys Pillar.
THE BEST HIKING TRAILS NEAR BILLINGS MT
Located on the bluffs just across the Yellowstone River, Four Dances Trail provides spectacular views of Billings. You can take several paths around Four Dances, but be sure to keep your explorations to the maintained trails. The cliffs look fun to climb, but they're unstable.
To get to Four Dances, head west out of town and turn south on Coburn Road. You'll come to Canyon Trail Road on your left, but you'll turn right on the unmarked dirt road. The trailhead is only 0.2 miles farther on.
Many game trails wind through the area and intersect with the main trail, but the main path is evident and easy to follow. It leads to the cliffs' edge, where you can take in some panoramic views of Billings, the Yellowstone River, and the Beartooth Mountains. The path then continues down to the rocky river bank.
Four Dances trail is a popular hike, and there is a 400-foot elevation gain along the way. It's not technical or complex, but it will get the blood pumping. It's wide open, too, so if you're heading out during the hot summer months, we'd recommend sticking to the early morning for the most relaxed air. The entire trip to the river banks and back again is 1.8 miles.
Phipps Park is right off of Highway 302, west of town. Several trails lead to the top of the butte, but the main double-track trail is the most direct route.
In total, it's a 4.2-mile loop, but there are lots of connector trails to allow you to cut your journey short if needed. It's great for families and dogs, and you're sure to see birds and wildlife, along with some gorgeous views of the town and river.
The pillar is one of those sights you'll want to check out when visiting Billings. It's not a long hike or grand adventure, but the history of this rocky monolith is fascinating.
Pompey’s Pillar stands about 150 feet tall and was signed by Captain William Clark during the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1806. His autograph stands as the only physical evidence of the journey in the West. Plus, the pillar has other markings by trappers, hunters, railroad workers, and miners who passed through the area.
The monument is on the Crow people's historical territory, and the pillar has been used as a landmark for thousands of years. You can see pictographs and petroglyphs alongside Lewis's signatures. The Interpretive Center on-site has more information about the history and importance of the pillar.
Pompey’s Pillar is about 25 miles east of town off of Highway 312. The hike itself is short and is mostly on a raised boardwalk for easy access. The walk is just over a half-mile round trip, and it goes straight from the parking lot to the Lewis signature on the pillar.
TAKE A HIKE AND EXPLORE BILLINGS
All of the hiking trails near Billings, MT, cover rocky terrain, and they are all open to the sun and elements. Be sure to take plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing. In the middle of summer, it can get pretty hot.
The reward for tackling these trails is a day outside that will rejuvenate your soul. It's a great way to get away from town, reconnect with nature, and find a little bit of peace.