Hiking Ulery’s Lake Loop Trail in Big Sky, Montana
Location: Moonlight Basin, Big Sky Resort, Madison Range, Montana
Trailhead: Moonlight Lodge Parking Lot
Distance: 3.9 miles round trip
Time: 1 to 2 hours
Moonlight Lodge Trailhead Elevation: 7800 feet
Ulery’s Lake Elevation: 7625 feet
Total Elevation Gain : 560 ft
USGS Map: Lone Mountain
In the Big Sky area, there are countless options of hikes to explore. One hike that I’ve been keen to check out is the Ulery’s Lake Loop Trail at Big Sky Resort.
Loop trails are always fun. Plus, this trail is dog friendly and it offers great views of mountains and lakes. Just be sure to bring bear spray and watch out for moose. This is a hiking and biking trail so look out for others too!
The Ulery’s Lake Trail leaves from the Moonlight Lodge at 7,800 feet and meanders through the forests, wetlands, and ski trails of Big Sky Resort. According to the Big Sky Resort Summer Hiking Trail Map, the Ulery’s Lake Trail is a 3.9 mile loop.
To access the Ulery Lake’s Trail, head up Lone Mountain Trail toward Big Sky Resort. Continue past the Mountain Village entrance and follow the signs to the Moonlight Lodge (formerly Moonlight Basin). Parking is free at the Moonlight Lodge during the summer.
The Ulery’s Lake Trail starts on the north side of the parking lot. Since this is a loop hike, you can go in either direction. We headed uphill and were soon greeted with stunning views of Lone Mountain, Wilson Peak, and the Spanish Peaks as we crossed massive skier bridges and passed large, private homes.
The trail soon pops out onto ski runs before it heads back into the peaceful forests of the Madison Range. It tops out at an elevation of about 8100 feet at this point. For the most part the trail is well marked and is easy to follow, but there were a couple of times we had to use our detective skills to figure out which way to go.
As you weave in and out of the forests, you’ll catch glimpses of towering mountains, high end homes, man made ponds, and eventually Ulery’s Lake. Along the trail there are educational signs where you can pick up useful trivia facts about the area. The signs cover topics like:
- Ulery’s Lake
- Spanish Peaks
Eventually you will reach Ulery’s Lake at 7625 feet. This alpine lake is nestled in the woods with lily pads scattered along its shores. It’s beautiful.
Ever since reading The Incident At Big Sky by Johnny France, Ulery’s Lake has piqued my curiosity. The book took place near Ulery’s Lake and in the Spanish Peaks. It is about the bizarre abduction of biathlete Kari Swenson by wild Mountain Men back in the 1980’s. It’s full of local lore and is a fascinating and true story. Definitely worth a read!
As you round the lake, you’ll notice a dock, yurt, and other activities. Please stay on the trail through this zone and don’t intrude on this private area. This area and all activities are reserved for members of the Moonlight Club. If you’d like to join the Moonlight Club, it’s a pretty cool year round opportunity.
The Ulery’s Lake Trail continues around the lake and passes a chairlift that currently does not function. Maybe it will be another real estate access lift someday?
Soon you will cross a few dirt roads before the trail wanders through some of the amazing ski in/ski out homes in Moonlight. If you’re interested in any real estate in Moonlight or Big Sky, please contact my wife, Mia Lennon. She’s a real estate agent with the Big Sky Real Estate Company and can help you find your dream home.
At the end of the hike (or the beginning depending on which direction you went), you’ll cross an 800 foot skier bridge back to the Moonlight Lodge. The entire hike only takes a few hours.
The Ulery’s Lake Hike was rated as one of the best day hikes in Big Sky by VisitBigSky.com. So it’s definitely worth checking out next time you’re looking for an outdoor adventure.
At a leisurely pace with 3 people and 2 dogs, it took 1.5 hours to hike Ulery’s Lake Trail.
View our route from the Gaia GPS app:
Additional photos from the Ulery’s Lake Hike:
We hiked Ulery’s Lake Trail on July 25, 2015.