FENCELINE: The classic Rattlensake ride! Get those lungs in shape as you pedal up to the top. Keep an eye out for glacier lilies on your way up! Enjoy the flowing downhill and don't forget to hit Ewok on your way down!! Want an extra challenge?! Bike up to Snowbowl Overlook before descending Fenceline. For a shorter route, take turkey trail up and avoid the climb up Sawmill to the top of Fenceline. Rating: Intermediate
EWOK: Some might say this is one of the most fun trails in Missoula. Practice your cornering technique and do a couple laps of Ewok. Best to ride up Sawmill road and down Ewok, so as not to collide with someone ripping downhill. Rating: Beginner
WALLMAN: Brave the icy spring run off as your ford the creek on your way up to Wallman. In 2022 MTB Missoula & Montana Conservation Corps finished a major reroute of Wallman, which created a super fun and flowy downhill (with a few moments of rocky technical sections). It is also great to ride in the fall to see the hillsides of yellow larches. It is easiest to ride up Wallman West and down Wallman East, but the trail can be ridden either way if you want to make it harder on yourself. Rating: Intermediate
SNOWBOWL OVERLOOK: A longer classic loop in the Rattlesnake. Ride time 2-3 hours with long climbs, steep/rocky/technical descending, and some great views. The high point is known as Snowbowl Overlook as you're looking at the local ski hill across Grant Creek. Rating: Advanced
BLUE POINT OVERLOOK: This is a great option if you want a challenge, but don't want to commit to the full Sheep Mountain ride. You can start in the Lincoln hills trailhead and take the North Loop up to Woods Ridge, which connects to the Sheep Mountain Trail. Another harder (and maybe slightly shorter) option is to ride Woods Gulch to Gulch Ridge to Woods Ridge and then connect to Sheep. Expect around 20 miles, 4,500ft of elevation and about 3-4+ hours ride time. Rating: Advanced+
SHEEP MOUNTAIN: Missoula's premier backcountry classic ride! See the link for the typical way most people ride the Sheep Mountain loop, although it can be done backwards (with an amazingly long final descent from Blue Point to Woods Gulch Trail). The recommended counter-clockwise direction is slightly easier climbing (but still VERY hard). This ride takes you far into the backcountry, so bring appropriate food, clothing, first aid, and repair items. There is a spring near the intersection of 1513 and the Sheep Mountain Descend (shown on Trailforks). Bringing a filter and filling up at the spring is highly recommended. Count on this ride taking 4 to 7+ hours. MTB Missoula removes the deadfall from this trail annually. If you enjoy this ride, please consider become a member and give them your support! Rating: Expert
STUART PEAK: Another great challenge! It includes 22ish total miles with a little over 4,000ft of elevation gain. Start at the Rattlesnake trailhead and take any trail you like up to Snowbowl Overlook (Sawmill Gulch would probably be the easiest option). At the top of Snowbowl Overlook, begin the slow slog up Stuart Peak. At the top of the Stuart Peak trail you will hit the wilderness boundary. Stash your bike in the woods and hike on foot the rest of the way to the top of Stuart Peak. All your hard work will pay off for the incredible views from the top. Enjoy one of the longest non-stop descents you'll find anywhere in the area on the way down. At the intersection of Snowbowl Overlook & Stuart Peak, take a left and follow Spring Gulch all the way down to the main Rattlesnake Corridor. Plan for 4-6+ hours unless you are super fast! Make sure to bring extra water, a repair kit and snacks! Rating: Advanced
Rattlesnake Team Ride
Top of Stuart Peak
SOUND OF MUSIC: A great beginner ride. Take the Jumbo Saddle Road up to North Loop and then enjoy the smooth and flowy trail as you descend Sound of Music. In the spring, the hills are alive with arrowleaf balsamroot. Most likely blooming towards the end of May. Rating: Beginner
SIDEWINDER: To access the trail, take the Jumbo Saddle Road, to North Loop and then continue your ascent on Woods Ridge and take a left to the top of Sidewinder. All the climbing will be rewarded with a long twisty descent. The trail starts out very smooth and twisty (with an interesting rock roll-down feature after the switchback). Many people take the forest road half way down and hit Sound of Music on the way down, but the sons(s) of sidewider make a nice addition. After the forest road the trail gets rougher and more burly as it doesn't get as much traffic. Beautiful during the early summer when the flowers are changing. Rating: Intermediate
THREE LARCH: A little longer and more technical than Sidewinder & Sound of Music. Fast and flowy up top, then some side-hilling, and even a few small rock drops. To access the trail, ride up Woods Gulch and take a left of the forest road and ride till the end. On the way down, extend the ride and take your own grand tour of the Lincoln Hills trail network and combine Three Larch, Sidewinder & Sound of Music. Three of Missoula's best mountain bike trails into one ride! Rating: Intermediate - Advanced
MTB Clinic at Lincoln Hills
Rock roll on Three Larch
Sound of Music
MO Z: A great early season ride to soak up some spring sunshine! It's not super long on mileage, but you will feel your lungs start to burn climbing the switchbacks up to the top of Sentinal. It's also lollipop shaped, so you'll use some of the same trails climbing and descending. Sections of the climb are tough (especially the lower Mo Z trail), but if you stick with it the climb gets easier as you go up. The loop at the end of the route takes you to the top of Chopsticks for a super fun, fast, and loose descent back down. The final descent on the bermed out Mo Z Trail is also a blast with good views to boot. This is a heavily used multi-use trail area, so be respectful of other users. The trailhead is at the base of Mount Sentinel on Maurice Ave just past the intersection of Maurice and South Ave. Rating: Intermediate
SAM BRAXTON:This is a great loop for beginner riders (or really anyone). It is most enjoyable ridden clockwise and there are many possible off-shoots and spur trails, which can add or subtract from the overall milage. There are not really any technical trails in this area of Pattee Canyon, so it is a great place to bring the family and explore the area! South Side Loop is another excellent beginner loop in the area. Honestly, the trails are so confusing, you might end up riding a little bit of both! Rating: Beginner
THE BEACON: A long and relatively challenging road climb will get you to the top to the Beacon. Take in the view and then lose a ton of elevation in a hurry. There is a fairly steep section right as you descend from the top and then the trail smooths out as you continue down. Easiest to get there from Deer Creek side taking the University Mountain Road all the way up. Rating: Intermediate - Advanced
HELLO KITTY: One of Missoula's favorite flow trails! Climb up Easy Up from the base of Marshall until you hit Hot Sauce. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with amazing view from the top of Marshall Mountain. This trail has it all: berms, jumps and flowy downhill. Practice your turns on the banked corners or do a couple laps on the Little Huck(leberry) Jump Line. Extend your ride by making additional laps on Hello Kitty, Moose, or Björn Again. Rating: Intermediate
MOOSE:Faster and flowier than Hot Sauce, a few more rocks and roots than Hello Kitty, and less rowdy than Bjorn Again. A couple small opportunities to get your wheels off the ground! Enjoy this super fun, but often overlooked trail. Rating: Intermediate
BJORN AGAIN: Missoula's first bike specific DH only trail. Mostly fast and flowy with some tight roots in the woods to keep you honest. With multiple drops, jumps and rocks this trail will keep the adrenaline pumping the whole way down. Rating: Advanced+
MTB Clinic at Marshall
HAYES TO ORCHARD: Get a taste of everything on this tour of Blue Mountain. Enjoy a fun flowy descent down Hayes Creek followed by some technical downhill on Orchard! Rating: Intermediate - Advanced
ORCHARD TO ROCKY TOP: A classic Blue Mountain route with a little bit of everything. Practice your climbing technique on the uphill switchbacks and varied rocky terrain. Take in the great views of the Missoula Valley at Rocky Top and enjoy a long descent back to the trailhead. Up your instagram game and snap a photo of yourself on Rocky Top! Rating: Intermediate - Advanced
DEADMANS RIDGE: A great shuttle ride, but doable without if you don't mind pedaling 3000 ft up a forest service road. Your reward from the top is a fun rowdy descent from the top of Blue Mountain to the valley floor. Beware, the high north aspects off the forest service road can hold snow till almost June. Also, if you're shuttle planning, it takes a solid 40 minutes to drive the road one way. The trail can get blown out once the motos start riding in late spring. Rating: Advanced
View from Rocky Top
Finishing a Team Ride at Blue Mtn
Post Ride Hang at Blue Mtn Trailhead
SNOWBOWL BEARGRASS HIGHWAY: The one singletrack trail up at Snowbowl with a wide variety of different features. If you plan to pedal up, access the trail under the top of the Griz chair. The trail takes a left into the trees below the a-frame. From the bottom, ride up the outrun to the bottom of paradise and the single track goes out past the ski area boundary. As you ascend, wind your way up a wooded hillside until you hit the top and it becomes a little more exposed with rocky loose soil. Enjoy a long downhill with a few technical and exposed sections that can be steep and loose in parts. You can take the chair up on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the summer. Don't attempt to ride up the trail when the chair is going, as you will encounter bikers bombing down. Later on in the summer it does get pretty dusty and big braking bumps develop. Chairlift Rides: Loading from 12 noon to 5:00pm (Fri, Sat & Sun) About a 20 minute ride time each way. Rating: Advanced
DEER CREEK SNEAK: Grab some friends and hop on your mountain or gravel bike for this classic Missoula ride around Mount Sentinel. The route is typically ridden clockwise, starting on the Kim Williams Trails and ending riding down MoZ, but can be done in either direction. It is a great early season ride and an opportunity to get those lungs and legs in shape for summer climbing! Make sure to pack some extra snacks. Finish your ride at the Iron Griz for some well deserved burgers.
MILLER CREEK ROAD: Get some miles in on a gravel or road bike! Start in downtown Missoula and follow the bike path (Kim Williams Trail/Milwaukee Trail) to Miller Creek Road. Continue up Miller Creek as long as you would like and turn around. After a while the road turns to gravel. Get in some extra hill climbing on the way back and head up and over Trails End Road, then turn around and do it again! Continue back the way you came, ending in downtown Missoula for a post ride beverage!
SOUTHSIDE ROAD: Get in some early season gravel riding and bike Southside Road starting in Alberton and heading towards Missoula as it follows along the Clark Fork River. The road quickly turns to dirt and continues up and down along the river through beautiful woods and up rocky slopes. There is little traffic on this route. You can follow Southside road for 25 miles before turning around (50 miles round trip), but turn around whenever you would like. This is a great early spring ride before the road gets too bumpy later in the season! To get to the start of the ride, hop on I-90 W if you are driving from Missoula. Take exit 77 for Petty Cr Rd toward MT-507/Alberton. Turn left onto Petty Creek Rd and park at the Petty Creek Fishing Access (on your left) along side the Clark Fork River. From the fishing access, cross over the train tracks and take an immediate left onto Southside Road, heading east towards Missoula.
PETTY CREEK ROAD: A great early season ride! Dust off your road or gravel bike and enjoy the beautiful views along Petty Creek Road in Alberton. Continue onto Graves Creek Road and stop for lunch at The Jack Saloon. The first 12 miles are paved and then the road turns to gravel. To get to the start of the ride, hop on I-90 W if you are driving from Missoula. Take exit 77 for Petty Cr Rd toward MT-507/Alberton. Turn left onto Petty Creek Rd and park at the Petty Creek Fishing Access along the Clark Fork River. It is 32 miles total if you ride out and back from the parking lot to the saloon. Shorten the ride by turning around whenever you like! Keep an eye out for wooden chainsaw art for sale along the road (cash only)!
NINEMILE ROAD: A scenic out and back along rolling hillsides on Ninemile road. About 15 miles and 800 ft of elevation total. A great early season ride to get those legs in shape. GOING-TO-THE-SUN ROAD: If you’re visiting Glacier National Park in May or June, biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a must do! In the spring, the famous road is closed to cars and perfect for biking. In most years, you can bike big portions of the road without cars from about Mother’s Day till mid-late June, when the alpine section of the Sun Road typically opens to cars. Be aware that this year you will have to purchase a Going-to-the-Sun Road Entry Ticket in order to enter the park between the hours of 6am-5pm. Entry tickets are required in addition to a park pass to enter at the West Entrance and/or St. Mary. Before you go, make sure to check for road closures and check on the progress of the plows as they work to open the road.
TWIN CREEKS: 9 miles of groomed trails for winter fat biking! Don't forget to turn on the "winter trails" filter in Trailforks to see the trail map. Suggested route is to ride up Twin Creek Road and descend Big Blue Down. Don't have a fat bike? Several local bike shops have rental fleets available. Check the conditions on the FatBike Missoula Facebook page before heading out. The grooming schedule is Wednesday and Friday evenings (weather dependent). Please avoid riding trails the same evening they are groomed to allow for the surface to setup and check out this article from Singletracks on fat biking best practices. You can also fat bike on many other trails in the Missoula area, but you have to wait for hikers to pack them down. The Missoula Nordic Ski Club grooms a number of trails in Pattee Canyon for cross-country skiing. Bikes and dogs are not allowed on these trails. Keep an eye out for trail closures when fat biking and, as always, be respectful of other trail users.