Location: Ousel Falls Road Trail head is located off Ousel Falls Road in Big Sky, Montana and is part of the Gallatin National Forest
Hike: 1.6 miles Easy out & back trail, elevation of 460 feet
Tucked away in the small town of Big Sky, Montana, Ousel Falls is a precious gem that flows freely most of the year and then freezes almost solid in the dead of winter, creating a beautiful majestic ice shield. The frozen falls offers a magical winter experience for all hiker levels. A family friend told us about this falls along the Gallatin River and being the adventures we are we had to go stop by.
The trail head is located at the parking lot off Ousel Falls Road. During the winter months don’t forget to bring your Yaktrax for traction as the path can be slick on the packed icy snow. From the top, the trail winds it’s way down the cliff side and onto the forest basin, opening up at the bottom to two beautiful frozen shafts on your right, known as the South Fork Cascade. Follow the path up and across the spanning bridges up to the main attraction, Ousel Falls.
We arrived alone and had the whole falls to ourselves but if you look closely you can find hikers up on the opposite ridge. You’ll first be overlooking the falls from a picnic table area at the top, which was snow covered for us, and then there appears to be stairs leading down to the falls, which were also snow packed and slick slow and steady.
We hiked out and back in about a 3 hour period, stopping at both spots to enjoy the view and take photos. Not knowing what the path is like in the summer or where our boundaries were, and since the river was primarily frozen we were able to hike down onto the riverbed and grab a couple of great shots.
The frozen waterfall makes for amazing detail shots
Big thanks to YakTrax, Mountain Hard Wear, The North Face, Stormy Kromer and this Orange Backpack Man for trekking with us. Adventure On, Ya’ll!