Our Top 8 Trails in Billings, MT – Which One to Go For?

Noel Massey



Two Bikers In Billings Montana

You thought finding the best trails in Billings, MT, was going to be a chore? Well, buckle up. I’ve trudged through mud, dodged snakes, and got more mosquito bites than I can count to bring you the cream of the crop.

Trails in Billings Montana infographic

If you’re into hiking, biking, trail running, or just aimlessly wandering outdoors, Billings surely has something for you with its 25 scenic trails. But who has time for all 25? So, here’s a guide to the top 8 that are guaranteed to impress—or at least get you out of the house.

1. Four Dances Rim Loop

Four Dances Rim Loop

  • Length: 2.7 km
  • Elevation Gain: 39 m
  • Route Type: Loop

My Take

If sliding around in the mud doesn’t pose any problem to you, Four Dances Rim Loop will be your jam. It’s a “moderately challenging” trail, which is code for “you might fall on your butt.”

But hey, at least the views are worth it, and if you move slow enough—because you have to—you might catch a bald eagle doing something majestic. Just watch out for the ice if you’re visiting during the winter months. It’s there, lurking, ready to take you down a notch.

2. Norm Schoenthal Island Outer Loop

Norm Schoenthal Island Outer Loop

  • Length: 2.7 km
  • Elevation Gain: 3 m
  • Route Type: Loop

My Take

This trail is absolutely awesome if you enjoy admiring the beauty of nature. It’s moderately challenging, so it shouldn’t pose any problems, especially if you’re experienced in outdoor conditions.

One important note: bring bug spray or prepare to donate blood to the local insect population, specifically mosquitoes. In case you want to bring your dog along for a walk, make sure to bring a leash, because this place is pretty strict about it.

3. Zimmerman Park West Loop

Zimmerman Park West Loop

  • Length: 5.3 km
  • Elevation Gain: 74 m
  • Route Type: Loop

My Take

This trail stands out among those who appreciate natural beauty. The manageable elevation gain and loop route make it an excellent choice for a leisurely hike or a more vigorous run.

With its open spaces and stunning vistas, Zimmerman Park West Loop invites you to immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature while getting a good dose of outdoor exercise. This trail is labeled easy, but your legs might disagree the next day. Bring water, watch your step, and enjoy the great outdoors vibe with a side of adrenaline.

4. Phipps Park Trail

Phipps Park Trail

  • Length: 4.0 km
  • Elevation Gain: 125 m
  • Route Type: Loop

My Take

No bugs. That’s right, an actual trail in Billings where you’re not the main course on the insect buffet. The Phipps Park Trail is your go-to if you like dry conditions, hate mosquitoes, and enjoy the occasional adrenaline spike from nearly stepping on a snake.

Just kidding, of course, chances of running into snakes are fairly low, but make sure to pay attention.

5. Highline Loop Trail

Highline Loop Trail

  • Length: 12.4 km
  • Elevation Gain: 140 m
  • Route Type: Loop

My Take

For those who enjoy the thrill of not quite knowing where you are, the Highline Loop Trail offers mismarked trails for an added adventure. This is the only criticism I have about this trail since everything else was so on point.

Given my experience in hiking, I found my way, but if you are just getting started, pay close attention. On the plus side, cows and flowers make for a pastoral hiking experience rarely found elsewhere. It is a wonderful trail you will certainly enjoy.

6. Pictograph Cave State Park Trail

Pictograph Cave State Park Trail

  • Length: 1.0 km
  • Elevation Gain: 47 m
  • Route Type: Loop

My Take

If your idea of a hike is a leisurely stroll to see some historic doodles, the Pictograph Cave State Park Trail is your spot.  It’s short, sweet, and to the point. Just don’t expect to break a sweat unless it’s from the heat.

I was actually very surprised to find out how much history is behind this place. Educational and a nice scenic walk, I highly recommend it!

7. Chief Black Otter Trail

Chief Black Otter Trail

  • Length: 10.1 km
  • Elevation Gain: 153 m
  • Route Type: Out & back

My Take

Enjoy asphalt? Love the idea of a paved path through nature? Chief Black Otter Trail is your dream come true.  It’s like hiking without all that pesky “roughing it.” The views of Billings are top-notch, but the lack of variety might have you wishing for a bit more excitement—like a pebble on the path.

It was a nice little trail that most would enjoy.  However, at the time, I was looking for something a bit more challenging, so I ended up slightly disappointed. Nevertheless, you will catch some nice sights along the way, and there will be plenty of opportunities to take some photos, so don’t forget to bring your camera.

8. Skyline Trail Loop

Skyline Trail Loop

  • Length: 2.9 km
  • Elevation Gain: 34 m
  • Route Type: Loop

My Take

Skyline Trail Loop: where the path is optional, and the urban noises remind you that civilization is near, but not too near.  You might encounter some trash, perhaps a broken bottle or two, giving the trail that edgy, post-apocalyptic chic.

Seriously though, it is a nice trail, but it will not provide much in the “escapism” territory. Not well-marked, which adds an element of surprise to your hike. Watch out for glass, enjoy the view, and appreciate the sounds of civilization not too far away. It’s like nature but with convenience.

Wrapping It Up

So, there you have it—the top 8 trails in Billings, MT. Remember, the best trail is the one that gets you outside and moving. Or at least one that doesn’t involve too much mud, ice, or bloodthirsty mosquitoes.

I had tons of fun with all of these trails, although I saved the most challenging ones for the situations when I was going without my kids. Whichever you opt for, you’re bound to see some beautiful sights and enjoy the natural landscapes this place provides.