Rugged, technical downhill that will keep your eyes wide and knuckles white. It is about as advanced riding as I've seen it in Bozeman, but an adrenaline junkie intermediate rider could do just fine. It takes energy to get up it, but well worth it on the return descent.
It starts out as a normal hiking trail, but after it crosses the stream twice it turns into a boulder playground for the next half mile that requires accurate wheel placement! After this the trail switchbacks up to a little ridge. The trail gets steeper as it crosses more streams and winds its way up the valley. The trail starts getting steeper at about mile 3 and after a few switchbacks opens up into a mountain meadow. After the meadow it climbs around a hill and you are looking several hundred feet down into a creek. You wouldn't want to fall.
This is as far as I've made it because by now I have been pushing my bike a ways because of the steepness and because I am tired. I think I've made it about 5 miles. At six miles or so the trail meets Truman Gulch trail and you can keep following it up to Fairy Lake you psycho.
But for me and most people, if they haven't turned around already, here is the time to unlock the shocks and lower the seat because the downhill is sick!!! The faster you go the better it is!
I give this trail 4++ stars or chilis. It would be a five if you didn't have to worry about hikers on the descent (it is a popular hiking trail so be courteous), and there was a way to shuttle to the top (but you have to earn your turns I guess), and there were some North Shore obstacles, which there are none that I know of in Bozeman (if you now of some, email me and let me know, please).
Othere than that, this trail is awesome. A lot of work, but a lot of reward.
Summary: This trail is a rocky, technical challenge. It's your typicaly west face of the Bridgers ride. As if the constant uphill grind weren't enough, there are a significant number of rocks and other technical features thrown in for good measure. Cleaning this trail would be quite a feat. A most excellent downhill, however.
Recommended Route: I've only ever done this ride as an out-n-back. Ride uphill until you can't stand it any more. Then turn around and carefully (there are a few blind corners in the trees) descend.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Not nearly as technical, but just as fun (downhill) is Truman Gulch.
Summary: Well, no to bash on meletele's review but I think he is confusing Cottonwood Canyon trail (Gallatin Range) with Middle Cottonwood (between Sypes and Truman in the Bridgers). The other guy has it right, Sweet ride!
Summary: Well, I can't say that I grew up here, But as I have ridden Middle Cottonwood Canyon (Yes, in the Bridgers and it is on the Beartooth Publishing map), I can say that the trail description is accurate, although completely rideable on an XC Hardtail(just not as fast). This is probably one of the only trails where anything more than 4" front and rear is a benifit. A good way to hit this trail is to ride up Sypes, turn left at the Bridger Trail, and then follow that to Middle Cottonwood.
Recommended Route: up, then down
Other recommended trails in the same area: Bangtail Divide, South Cottonwood(This one is near Hyalite), Bear Canyon loop
Review Date August 12, 2003
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Aerobic Difficulty 4 of 5
Technical Difficulty 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Every few months
Reviewed by: meletele
Cross Country Rider
, from Bozeman, MT, USA
Summary: I do not want to catch the previous reveiwers out on a limb, but... I grew up near the Middle Fork of Bracket Creek. The trail described here is a composite of three different trails. The Fairy Lake 500(west side of the Bridgers), Truman Gulch (east side of the Bridgers) and Cotonwood Canyon (the Hylights). If one rode all of the features described in this discription they would be riding about 100 miles to connect all of the dots. All three trails are first rate and deserve seperate reviews. There is an excelent new map out by Beartooth Publishing that will guide someone to some of the great trails in the area. The twelve bucks you spend on this map will be well worth it. Please do not trust this trail discrition.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Fairy Lake 500, Limestone to Ross Pass, Grassy Mountain, Weasel Creek to Grassy mountain, Stone Creek, Cottonwood Canyon, Squaw Creek to Hylight, Mystic lake, Lick Mystic moser Loop, Mystic Lake, Hist
Review Date July 17, 2002
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a week
Reviewed by: Kail Marks
, from Bozeman
Summary: This trail reminds me of the Portal trail in Moab - the first time you take a look at how rocky it is, you wonder if it's actually ridable. I give it 5 stars because it's extremely rough, even on my DH bike which has 7" of travel. The trail is also quite beautiful, with lots of dense, lush foilage, and also great views of the Bridgers and their cliffs. I usually ride Middle Cottonwood later in the evening when I don't have time for a long ride but i'm still in the mood for something sick.
Recommended Route: UP - then down, preferably at a high rate of speed.