Top 8 Off-Road 4×4 Trails & Areas To Explore In Montana: User-Sourced Reference

5th Gen 4Runner Overlanding & Camping In Montana

Explore Montana Through These 4×4 Trails Rated For All Skill Levels

Welcome back to an all-new post featuring the top trails and OHV parks across America! In today’s post, we are featuring the beautiful state of Montana.

Montana is the heartland of off-road adventures, offering a thrilling playground for 4×4 enthusiasts. Nestled within the Rocky Mountains, Montana isn’t just about breathtaking landscapes; it’s a haven for those looking for challenging and rugged trails. Yet, even when navigating the more accessible forest roads, Montana doesn’t hold back on its beauty. Whether you’re tackling challenging trails or cruising along the easier routes, the state’s beauty never fails to reveal itself. 

Let’s dive into this week’s fan-favorite trails!

Do you want to be featured in our Top Off-Road Trail Series?

Submit here to get featured!

Each week, we cover new areas across the country to highlight the top off-road & overland trails.

Note: The trails listed below are in no particular order.

1. Hungry Horse Reservoir – Hungry Horse

5th Gen 4Runner at Hungry Horse Reservoir in Hungry Horse, Montana

Submission By: Jordan (@jordankimmons)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

Hungry Horse Reservoir is a gem that millions of people drive right by every year without ever knowing it’s there. Just 15 minutes outside of Glacier National Park, the 34-mile-long reservoir is surrounded by more than 25 peaks, a 112-mile dirt loop road around the shore, dozens of side roads, access to a fire lookout, and some of the most incredible primitive campsites I’ve ever been to.

This is one of my favorite areas for daytime adventures and camping trips alike. It’s the perfect escape for anyone who wants to get off the pavement and go on an adventure.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

Most of the roads and trails are 1-2/10 and accessible by anything with good tires, but off of those you can hop on more side trails to surrounding lakes, peaks, and water access points that are more in the 3-4/10 range. There are also OHV areas closer to the town of Hungry Horse with fun terrain and obstacles if you really want to push your rig. There’s a bit of something for everyone.

2. Moose Creek/Portal Creek – Gallatin Canyon

3rd Gen Tacoma at Moose Creek/Olsen Creek in Gallatin Canyon, Montana

Submission By: Alexis (@tacomawild406)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

This area is absolutely stunning! My favorite route is to go up Moose Creek, loop through, and finish at Olsen Creek. There are a ton of branch-off trails throughout that area as well. Every season changes the difficulty and the scenery, but it never disappoints.

Take in the backroads, and mostly unseen area of the Gallatin Canyon between Bozeman and Big Sky. Wind through the thick trees and cruise on the edge of the mountain, all in one trail.

There are tons of beautiful camping spots, and places to stop, get out, unwind, and enjoy the views. If you haven’t made it up here yet, it’s a must to put on the list!

What Would You Rate This Spot?

Every single time that I have gone on this trail, its difficulty has been different. It really just depends on the time of year and the current weather as well as the past season’s weather. This entire trail is only open from the beginning of July to the beginning of December. Here is how I would rate the trail throughout the season:

  • Beginning of the Season: 7/10 – this is definitely the most difficult time of year. The melt-off has created deep ruts, there might even still be some snow on the trail, the mud is super sticky & sloppy, and things get sketchy driving on the edge of mountain cliffs and climbing up steep rocky hills.
  • Mid Season: 5/10 – it’s totally 50/50 at this time of year. Depends on the rain and how bad the beginning season treated the trail.
  • Late Season: 3/10 – typically pretty dry throughout. There will be rutted-out spots from earlier in the year, but pretty easy to pass through. There are some pretty steep, rocky hills that can get a little sketchy depending on where the rocks end up after runoff. But overall it’s an easy-to-moderate trail.

I’ve never gone through this trail at the end of the season, once the snow is here. I’m just not a huge fan of snow wheeling in general, but especially on these high-up, cliffside trails. But if you’re up for the challenge, send it!

3. Caruthers Lake – Deer Lodge

3rd Gen Tacoma at Caruthers Lake in Deer Lodge, Montana

Submission By: Hunter (@hunter_pauley)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

The views and access to the high mountain lakes are unbeatable in the Anaconda Pintler wilderness. For me, a trail is well-rounded when the wheeling is just enough with a good reward at the end. In Montana, those rewards are often breathtaking views and lakes stocked full of hungry fish ready to bite!

This is the perfect day trail to head up to with some buddies to catch fish. It’s an easy enough trail with some beautiful views.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

When referring to OnX, this trail is ranked 4/10 which I feel is fair. I would not do this trail without sliders or underbody protection and I believe a 33s would be a better option than the stock size. There are some mild puddles and water crossings that could be much deeper earlier in the season so having the extra clearance is absolutely needed.

4. Blacktail Wild Bill OHV – Kila

4th Gen and 5th Gen 4Runners at Blacktail Wild Bill OHV in Kila, Montana

Submission By: Madison (@forest_runner18)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

I really enjoy this area because the scenery is stunning! I also tend to run into a lot of people going on this trail and everyone is always super friendly. No matter where you are, everyone watches out for each other so if you get yourself stuck, you’ll be sure to find someone eager to help.

I also really like that is trail is close enough to where I live, making it super convenient to go whenever I want to go.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

I would rate this trail a 3-5/10, there are some hard spots but there are enough resources to have your own fun!

You will see signs along the way to help you navigate and many openings for groups to gather. “The Playground” as they call it has tires to bounce off of and lots of deep ruts to go through. It’s exactly what it sounds like, an off-roading playground. There is also a steep rock shale hill that makes you think about your life decisions.

Make sure to pack a lunch because this one will take most of your day, 5-6 hours depending on your group size!

5. Sapphire Mountains – Missoula

1st Gen 4Runner on the Sapphire Mountains in Missoula, Montana

Submission By: Nick (@the.redwood.runner)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

I love adventuring around the Sapphire Mountains. It’s great that this area is close to town yet it gets you so far into the middle of the mountains surrounded by stunning wildlife and great views. It’s a great place to just go on an evening adventure after work.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

The trails and roads up there are easy mostly forest service roads between 2-3/10 due to poor maintenance. There are some offshoots that get much harder and I would rate those a 6/10. These trails definitely require a good bit of attention and skill.

6. Priest Pass – Austin

5th Gen 4Runner on Priest Pass in Austin, Montana

Submission By: Chris (@topher406)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

Montana is great because you will always find new adventures. The nature is immense and offers so many trails to explore, including one of my favorites, Priest Pass.

This is one of my favorite trails because at any point it breaks off and can take me to completely new areas around the Continental Divide. I’ve been here quite a few times and I’m always amazed at what I can see and find in this area.

I also usually bring my dog with me and we can just go for hours exploring all over the place. I highly recommend you check this one out.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

I would rate this trail a 6/10. You will absolutely encounter some rougher and untamed roads with big runoffs. If you are thinking of exploring over here, make sure that your truck is capable.

7. Beta Lake – Hungry Horse

5th Gen 4Runner at Beta Lake in Hungry Horse, Montana

Submission By: Lee (@nwlivingandlife)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

I like this area because of its beauty. Once you reach the top, you’ll see that it overlooks the Hungry Horse Dam Reservoir, which is quite a sight to see.

You’ll also find that there are plenty of people taking this trail every year, so if something were to happen, you know someone wouldn’t be too far behind. This trail is typically run side by side, with the exception of off-road vehicles.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

I would rate this spot a 5-7/10. If you’re scared of heights, you might get nervous, especially in some of the tighter areas. And there are some areas where you will be going above the clouds at times. I definitely would be cautious in late fall throughout early spring because you will be encountering some snow.

8. Pipe Stone, Revenue Flats, and Copper City

3rd Gen 4Runner in Montana Off-Roading

Submission By: Montana (@ms_tempest)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

These are great areas for exploring, messing around, or if you need a little place away from all the noise. The Pipe Stone Rec area has some great hidden gems from a hidden away reservoir to unique rock formations. Revenue Flats is great for testing your vehicle on different obstacles. Copper City is a mixed-use area for mountain bikers and off-roaders. Be careful not to go on private land and know the public land boundaries at all locations!

What Would You Rate This Spot?

The Pipe Stone area can range from a 1/10 to 6-7/10. If you want to reach the hidden reservoir then it’ll be a bit harder of a trail. At a minimum, I would have 32s, with a small lift and a winch with another rig or two.

Revenue Flats can range from 1/10 to 4-5/10. As stated before, great for testing your vehicle on smaller obstacles.

Copper City can be 1-3/10. It is pretty minor but fun to explore all around the hills and rocky areas. If you try any of these in the snow, the rating is higher. We have gotten stuck many times!

Final Thoughts

Beta Lake in Hungry Horse, Montana

All these submitted places in Montana are so beautiful. Each one showcases the raw beauty and adventure waiting in this state. Exploring these trails and 4×4 areas seems like an incredible journey and I can’t wait to head out there myself to experience these areas firsthand.

We would love to hear what other areas you like to explore in the area, so make sure to comment on your favorites below! If you want to be a part of a future trail guide post, make sure to submit your entry using the link above!

Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 months ago

Completely new to all this, thinking of making the hike from WI to Montanna end of May. I have a ’23 TRD Off Road Premium, with the Off-Road Premium Plus package, front skid plate, 17″ tires. What trails would you recommend for a new-b like myself? Also, any recommendation for a tent topper that doesn’t break the bank?

Questions or Comments?x