BY MILE FOUR-AND-A-HALF of the Jim Bridger Trail Run, the already uphill slant of the trail steepens to an angle that more closely resembles a wall than a slope. In the beating sun, my jog slowed to a hike, then to a halt as soon as I found shade. I needed water and calories, and as I downed a gu packet in hopes it would stop my dizziness, I wondered if I was finished.
Ten miles, 2,000 feet of elevation gain, and relentless sunshine make the annual Jim Bridger Trail Run outside of Bozeman a test in strength and stamina. For some it’s a training race for the longer, gnarlier Bridger Ridge Run, a chance to test out racing paces and push limits. But for me? I was just trying to finish.
Thankfully, the gu worked it’s magic and I was back climbing the last stretch of a continuous six-mile uphill section. And as the ridge crested, I remembered why I’d signed up for this race in the first place: a rainbow of wildflowers and expansive views of the Gallatin Valley. I spread my arms to let the breeze cool me off, and I started to laugh. After all, everything was downhill from there.
The Trip: Hiking or running the trail section of the Jim Bridger Trail Run, starting at the Sypes Canyon trailhead outside of Bozeman. Take the longer, 10-mile loop, or do a shorter variation.
Getting There: Just over an hour north of Big Sky in the Bridger Mountains, the trail begins at the Sypes Canyon trailhead off of Springhill Road.
Why Go: If you’re not already out of breath at the top of this 2,000-foot climb, the views will take it away from you anyway. With wildflowers springing up all around, you’ll see the whole Gallatin Valley stretched out before you with snowy peaks floating in the distance.
The trail gains 2,000 feet of elevation over six miles.
Coming into the home stretch
Big Sky runner Lyndsey Owens, who is training for the Bridger Ridge Run, finished in under two hours...
...I finished in just under three...