Bozeman, Montana is located in an excellent area for outdoor recreation. It's about an hour north of Yellowstone National Park and four hours south of Glacier National Park. But you don't even need to travel out of town to take part in an invigorating hike - the College M trail.
Montana State University calls Bozeman home. On a mountain side just beyond the downtown area, there is a giant letter M to signify the college. There is a 2 mile loop trail that runs up to the base of the M. As a hiker arrives at the trailhead they must decide to go left, which is a mile and a half to the top, or right, which is half a mile to the top. Those good at math will figure out that the trail to the right is much steeper. Either way there is an 820 foot elevation gain.
The views from the top are spectacular, looking across Bozeman towards the foothills of the northern Rocky Mountains. While the trail is a loop, you can descend the same way you came up if you want an easier (or harder) adventure. From either direction the trail is strenuous and there are several bits of rock scrambling involved.
The College M Trail is popular with local residents. We talked to one enthusiast who said he runs the trail everyday before work. Other nearby trails recommended by local folks include the Drinking Horse Mountain Trail and the Bozeman Creek Nature Trail.