Free Fitness and Frosty Fun

Thursday Dec. 1st, 2011

On a budget? Looking to boost vitamin D and oxygen levels this winter? Need a break? Consider the following and you’ll discover you’re in the right place for some frugal frolics when the forecast is freezing. Numbers regarding sunny days in Bozeman per year vary anywhere from 188 to 320 depending on the source and possibly your definition of a sunny day, however, it is safe to say Bozeman enjoys ample sunshine. Walking uphill, sledding, snowshoeing and playing on an outdoor rink are not only fine ways to get your heart rate up, but they are also free, or at very low cost once you’ve obtained skates, snowshoes or some form of sled. All you need to do is get out there!

Perhaps one of the best places for a winter walk, or for some sledding is the Snowfill Recreation Area. Located a short drive north of Bozeman just off McIlhatton Rd, is the 37 acre rolling hills park which includes the 1.25 mile Hedvig’s Trail, named in honor and memory of the Bozeman artist, Hedvig Flowers. Known for allowing dogs offleash, as long as they are under control, Snowfill Rec Area also has a great sledding hill. If you’re lucky you might see the sledding bulldog who happily carries his sled back up the hill in his teeth. Another good option for gaining a little elevation while walking or sledding is the ever popular Peets Hill. Located in Burke Park, Peets Hill can be accessed through either the Bozeman Public Library parking lot (hop on the trail here, start walking south and you’ll see the hill ahead) or the smaller parking lot at the base of Peets Hill just off S Church Ave. Dogs are to be leashed at Peets Hill. Both parks have expansive valley views and an awesome place to watch a late afternoon winter sunset. Word to the wise: wear yak tracks, or similar, over your shoes/boots when walking as it can get very icy. When sledding in either park the round plastic saucer is the way to go if you’re looking for speed control and accuracy steering. This according to my source, a teenager with extreme sledding experience. Sometimes small jumps are built on the sledding hill, helmets are always a good idea. Go to for maps, more information regarding dogs and other park rules. Deer droppings are not nearly as disgusting as dog doo on shoe bottoms so don’t be that guy who leaves doggie poo on the trail.

Anyone who can hike can snowshoe. Anywhere you can hike you can snowshoe. Several businesses in Bozeman rent snowshoes and poles. Dress in layers and bring water. Also be sure to check the avalanche report before each outing. Call 406-587-6981 or go to

Bozeman has three outdoor city ice rinks. The rinks are found at Southside Park, 5th & College; Bogert Park, 325 S Church; and Beall Park, Villard & Black. Rink hours are M-F Noon to 10:00 pm and Sat – Sun from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Dogs, smoking, alcohol and dogs who are smoking and drinking (just seeing if you’re paying attention) are not allowed on the ice or in the warming hut. Rinks are closed when the ice is soft, which can happen frequently when the weather warms. For Peets sake, don’t be that guy who grooves up the ice. Drop-in informal hockey is allowed at Bogert and the upper rink at Southside Park. My teenage source, mentioned previously, says the best time to find others for a pickup hockey game is Friday or Saturday evening. Several businesses in Bozeman offer low cost ice skate and helmet rental. You can buy used skates at Play It Again Sports, use them for one day, then take them back to the store, and they will buy the skates back, minus $5. MSU students, faculty & staff can rent skates and a helmet on campus for $5 per day. I don’t know about you but I have fun playing and sliding around on the ice rink in my snowboots. Broomball anyone?

All this fresh air will increase oxygen to your brain and surely encourage a stimulating conversation. Here are some facts to share with your friends: According to The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Dennis Seibel, member of the Bozeman Historic Preservation Advisory Board explained that Peets Hill is named after John M Peets, owner of the land which he used back in the day for a dairy farm. John’s son Earl took over the business but was forced to shut it down due to a typhoid outbreak. Earl Peets then offered to donate the land to the city, as it was very popular for sledding. The city decided not to accept the donation. Peets sold the land to Capt. Edmund Burke Jr. It then became a horse pasture. The public continued to use the land, regardless of the fact it was private, for sledding and other recreational purposes. Burke eventually sold the land to city.

In her book, Gallatin County Places And Things Past And Present, 2nd Edition, Grace Bates reports Burke’s Park became a city park in 1993. It seems fitting that the hill within Burke Park, still popular for sledding today is named after the man who recognized it’s public recreation potential. You too can recognize your potential to enjoy free fitness and frosty fun in Bozeman!

Tammy Walker has lived, raised extreme kids, volunteered, worked and played frugally in Bozeman since 1997. Having moved here from Grand Forks, ND Tammy thinks Bozeman has “Baby Winter”.