The high peaks of Hyalite Canyon are arranged in a roughly horseshoe-shaped pattern, curving from northwest to southeast, and Divide Peak, occupying a central position along the western side of the curve as it bends southeast to Hyalite Peak
and Fridley Peak, which anchor the southern end of the horseshoe-like ridgeline, has views of spectacular peaks in all directions, and it thus provides that wonderful sense of being in a sea of mountains.
Divide Peak is part of Hyalite Ridge, a long ridge running roughly north-south between Elephant Mountain and Hyalite Peak. The ridge crosses several summits, most of them unnamed and some not even marked with elevation highpoints. From north to south, those named and elevation-indicated summits are as follows: Peak 10,211, Mount Bole (which shares with Mount Chisholm
the distinction of being the highest peak in the northern Gallatins), Peak 10,201, Divide Peak, Peak 10,073, Peak 10,024, and Peak 10,201.
An easy walk-up of less than half a mile and about 250 vertical feet from Squaw Creek Divide, which has a good trail leading to it, a climb of Divide Peak, while somewhat long (approximately 15 miles RT), offers excellent scenic payoff (and solitude) for remarkably little technical effort. The only technical difficulties along the way will involve snow, which can cover much of the trail well into July. The slopes are easy to moderate unless you climb straight to Squaw Creek Divide rather than taking a switchbacking approach as the trail does, but it is still a good idea to carry an ice axe on this outing, especially if significant amounts of snow are visible on the higher peaks when you see ithem Hyalite Reservoir during the drive to the trailhead.
The Hyalite Creek Trail starts at about 6900’ and climbs for 5 moderate miles, passing several waterfalls, to a signed junction at about 8900’ in Hyalite Basin. Pretty little Hyalite Lake, a nice spot to camp, is a short walk to the east. At the junction, you can go left to follow a trail up Hyalite Peak or go right to reach Squaw Creek Divide. If your sole destination is Divide Peak, go right and follow the trail for about 2 miles to the 9800’ divide. Then hike northeast up the ridgeline to Divide Peak.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, though, consider traversing Hyalite Ridge from Hyalite Peak to Divide Peak. This will make the outing longer, up to 18 miles RT, and harder, entailing a total elevation gain of up to around 4500’, but it is more scenic, challenging, and interesting, involving some Class 3 and Class 4 terrain and adding three other peaks, all unnamed, to the day. There are more details about this route on the attached route page.
Summer Trail Status
The north-facing basins here collect plenty of snow and keep it well into the summer. I have seen the trails mostly clear in Mid-July, and I have also seen them buried and thus indistinguishable. Having an ice axe and a good map (and the ability to use both) are strongly recommended.
From Main Street in Bozeman, take South 19th for 7 miles to the signed road for Hyalite Canyon. 11.5 miles up the canyon, shortly after the road passes Hyalite Reservoir and becomes unpaved, a signed junction indicates that you go right for the Hyalite Creek Trail. Follow this road for 2 miles to a large parking area at the trailhead.
Be aware that the trail is very popular and is a mixed-use one. It is open to hikers and horses every day of the week, but, from July 16 through September 4, it is open to mountain bikes and motorbikes Sunday through Thursday. Be alert, and do not assume that everyone heeds the restrictions; most do, but not all. From September 5 through July 15, the trail is open to hikers, horses, mountain bikers, and skiers every day.
There are several developed campgrounds in Hyalite Canyon, and the closest to the trailhead is Chisholm (2 miles away); sites for it and some of the other area campgrounds can be reserved at recreation.gov
. There are also two rustic cabins nearby, Window Rock (closer-- just a mile away) and Maxey, that can be rented through recreation.gov. Dispersed camping is widely available. No permit is required for backcountry camping.