Missoula residents hike more than they walk, and with so many hidden valleys, mountains, lakes, and wildlife to discover, hiking never gets old. Neverending mountain trails lead not only to breathtaking scenery, but also offer a serene reprieve from the noise of every day life. Here are our top five Missoula hikes:

  • 1

    Mount Sentinel (The M)

    The classic, most popular hike, features a zig-zagged trail with 11 switchbacks and gains 620 feet in elevation in under a mile. It leads up to the concrete white M, where dogs, runners, hand-holding couples, backpacking tourists, and especially UM students inundate. It’s best to go in the early morning or late at night in terms of weather, less people, and most picturesque view. The view of Missoula at the top features ant-sized students running around campus and spans to show Missoula in entirety. Its entrance exists east of the UM campus.

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  • 2

    Rattlesnake

    With its major trail head only 4 miles north of Missoula, this 61,000-acre area forms Montana’s blends wilderness and civilization. For hiking, the Boulder Lake Trail, Rattlesnake Main Trail, and Woods Gulch Trail are among the most popular. To get there from I-90 in Missoula, take the Van Buren Street Exit and head north. Van Buren Street turns into Rattlesnake Drive. Continue to follow for 3 miles until you reach the entrance.

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  • 3

    Blodgette Canyon Park

    A short mile or so hike, with deep woods and glimmering creeks fully immerse you into nature, if you’ve tired of Mount Sentinel and Rattlesnake’s close proximity to Missoula. Located in the Bitterroot Valley, Blodgette features cliff faces and small swimming holes. It’s wide, rocky and deep, so it renders one of the most gorgeous sights in the valley. Note that in winter, this trail requires four-wheel drive and snowshoes.

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  • 4

    Pattee Canyon Recreation Area

    Located in a wooded canyon near Missoula and sitting at 4,100 feet, Pattee Canyon offers picnic sites and group sites, easy and difficult trails. It’s especially popular for day hikesand mountain biking. From downtown Missoula, follow South Higgins, and then turn left onto Pattee Canyon Road and follow for 3 miles.

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  • 5

    Kim Williams Meets Ron MacDonald Riverfront: In-Town Trails

    The riverfront trail follows the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula before connecting to the Kim Williams Nature Trail, providing users with 7 miles of uninterrupted trail access. Hikers can cross the river on one of three bridges along the trail—Orange Street, Higgins Avenue and the Madison Street bridge, as well as three footbridges—Van Buren, one under the Madison Street Bridge and the third just off California Street. Kim Williams passes through a 134-acre nature area, along the Clark Fork and with its wide, flat pathway it roller skaters, bikes, strollers, and dogs!

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