things to do outdoors
Hiking in Montana—it comes with the territory. It’s also one of those activities that can require little to no gear (other than footwear appropriate for the trail), and you can quickly and easily access a footpath from pretty much anywhere. So if you’re looking for a short hike in the wildflowers of our foothills around one of our small towns, a day-hike in the mountains or a rugged multiday trek into our backcountry, our trail system is vast and diverse. Glacier National Park alone boasts over 730 miles of trails.
Southwest Montana’s ghost towns and historic places tell tales of lingering souls. Whether you are a thrill seeker, ghost hunter or history buff, you’ll love these spooky sites and tours.
Here you’ll discover where to hike in Montana, as well as some of our most traveled and least traveled hiking trails, nature trails and walking trails.
This trail offers a scenic overlook of Lake Koocanusa after a short half-mile hike on the trail. For a more rugged day hike, continue on the trail.
From Libby, travel northeast on Highway 37 for 12 miles. Turn left onto Forest Development Road 228 and continue for 5 miles to the trailhead.
This 3 mile steep trail provides hikers and backpackers with good views.
From I-90, take Superior Exit 47. Go nearly 5 miles on the south side frontage road to Dry Creek Road 342. Continue on Dry Creek Road for 8 miles to the trailhead.
One of the first ranger stations on the Kootenai Forest, it's now an environmental education center. The trail leads to a viewing platform where visitors can see a marshland ecosystem. The trail is wheelchair access to the platform and foot travel for the remaining mile.
From Fortine, travel 2 miles southeast on US Highway 93. Turn right on Road 36 and continue 1 mile.
Providing quick access to Baker Lake, this trail is moderately difficult, steep and has heavy use.
From Darby, continue 4 miles south to West Fork Road 473. Continue 7 miles to Baker Lake Road 363. At the fork in the road, take Road 5634 to the end.
This prehistoric trail follows the river though old orchards and bighorn sheep ranges. A popular trail, benches are located along its route.
From Libby, turn off on Highway 37 onto Kootenai River Road. Follow for 7 miles to the trailhead.
Located in the Bitterroot Valley, Blodgett is wide, rocky and deep, making it one of the most dramatic sights in the valley. While it's beautiful any time of year, winter requires four-wheel drive and snowshoes.
From Hamilton, take Main Street west into the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains, following signs to the Blodgett Trailhead and overlook.
Blue Mountain Nature Trail is a popular trail at Blue Mountain Recreation Area. Sitting above the recreation area is an active fire lookout, as well as the Graves Range Trail for 4x4 driving. The Maclay Flat Interpretive Trail also provides 1.5 miles of accessible trail along the Bitterroot River.
The recreation area is located 2 miles southwest of Missoula. Take Highway 93 south to Blue Mountain Road and follow for 1 mile. The next left is Lookout Road, while the next right is the Maclay Flat Area.
This easy trail follows Blue Sky Creek.
From Fortine, travel north 3 miles on US Highway 93. Turn right on Grave Creek Road 114 and continue 11.5 miles to the trailhead.
Encompassing more than 1.5 million acres, this complex includes three wilderness areas: the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat and Great Bear. Numerous trails provide plentiful hiking opportunities.
From the west side of the Rocky Mountains, The Bob can be reached from Hungry Horse, Kalispell, Lincoln, Ovando, Seeley Lake and Swan Lake, while the east side has access from Augusta, Browning, Bynum, Choteau and Dupuyer.
Located about 15 miles southwest of Libby, the wilderness contains some of the most beautiful scenery in Western Montana, with elevations ranging from 3,000 feet to 8,738 feet. Trail difficulty varies from easy stream bottoms to sweet switchbacks.
From Montana 56 (about 23 miles south of Troy and 16 miles north of MT 200), turn east on South Fork Bull Road and drive just over 2 miles. Turn left and go a half mile to Forest Service Road 2722 to the turnoff for the Middle Fork Bull River Trail 978. Turn right and proceed nearly a half mile to the trailhead for Trail 978. To access Trail 972, continue just under 1.5 miles.
This trail follows a series of switchbacks to Cliff Point before following the ridgeline between the Little North Fork/Big Creek and Gold Creek drainages. This 6-mile-long trail is moderately difficult and has light use.
From Rexford, travel 7 miles south on Highway 37 to the Koocanusa Bridge. Cross the bridge and travel south of Road 228 for nearly 5 miles to the junction with the lower trailhead.
This low difficulty trail is 25 miles long, with much of its path on a portion of the southeast boundary between the Bitterroot National Forest and Beaverhead National Forest. The trail beings at Chief Joseph Pass and ends at Beaverhead-Deerlodge Trail #374. Hikers along this trail will have views of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness and the beautiful Big Hole Valley.
For directions, please call Sula Ranger District, 406.821.3201.
This gently sloping trail climbs above the north side of Deep Creek to Locke Ridge. It's an easy hike, with views of three small lakes.
From Fortine, take US 93 to Deep Creek Road 368. Travel 5.5 miles, turning left before crossing Deep Creek Bridge. Walk 1.5 miles on the road to the trailhead.
This 2 mile loop trail leaves the Historic Village Area in Eureka and continues along the Tobacco River. It's a great walk for all ages.
The hike travels south and east from the Historical Village Area just off Highway 93 on the south side of town.
This trail is located mostly on or near ridge tops, offering beautiful views of the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. This easy 11.5-mile trail starts at Teepee Lake and ends just below the top of Brush Mountain.
From Libby, travel 20.5 miles south to US Highway 2. Turn left on Teepee Creek Road 6740 and follow just over 7 miles to Teepee Lake. The trail begins near the east side of the lake.
With more than 700 miles of trails in the park, outstanding opportunities for short hikes and multiday backpacking trips abound. Several hikes in the park are self-guided and interpretive, allowing hikers to explore the trail at their own pace.
For a short hike in the North Fork, try Hidden Meadow. Or for a longer hike, try Kintla Lake Head or hike to Numa Lookout from Bowman Lake.
From Logan Pass, hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook or set off on the Highline Trail and walk along the Garden Wall. In the Many Glacier Valley, combine your hike with a boat trip and hike to Grinnell Lake. In the Lake McDonald Area, stroll the Trail of the Cedars or for a more invigorating hike, hike to Huckleberry Lookout.
For Glacier National Park trails, maps and current conditions, go to the National Park Service website.
This short trail begins at the junction of trail 415 and ends at Holland Falls.
This trail goes through steep timbered terrain, leading to sub-alpine areas and lakes.
Take Thompson River Road 556 (about 5 miles east of Thompson Falls) north for 7 miles. Turn left on Forest Road 603 and continue 1.5 miles to the junction with Liver Ridge Road. Follow 1 mile to Honeymoon Creek and the beginning of the trail.
This nearly 5 mile long trail is a low difficulty, light use begins at the Saddle of Sutton/Little Sutton and ends at Little Sutton Mountain.
From Eureka, travel 20 miles south on Highway 37 to its junction with Sutton Creek Road 619. Continue 2 miles on Road 619 to its junction with Flat Creek Road 7993. Take Road 7993 9.5 miles to the trailhead at Flat Creek Saddle.
This trail utilizes an old Milwaukee Railroad grade and passes through a 134-acre nature area. With its wide, flat pathway it has a variety of uses and can accommodate people with small children.
The Kim Williams Nature Trail is part of Missoula City Parks and can be accessed off of Van Buren Street and 5th Street in Missoula.
This 2.5 mile long trail is moderately difficult and stretches from Big Creek Road 336 to Boulder Creek Road 7183.
Travel 15 miles south of Eureka on Highway 37, crossing the Koocanusa Bridge. Proceed south on Road 228 for 8 miles to its junction with Big Creek Road 336. Continue on Road 336 for nearly 5 miles to the lower trailhead.
This well-maintained trail is ideal for moderate hikers, with high stock and foot use.
From the Stevensville junction on Highway 93, travel north 1 mile. Turn west on Kootenai Creek Road and continue 2 miles to the trailhead.
This trail wraps around the lake for 7 miles.
From Darby, take US Highway 93 north for 4 miles. Take a left on Road 82 and follow the signs to Lake Como.
This short, steep trail is a heavily used access point into the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Hikers will most likely share the trail with mountain goats.
From Libby, travel 7 miles south on US Highway 2. Turn right on Bear Creek Road and travel 3 miles to Cherry Creek Road 867. Turn right and follow for 4 miles. Next, turn right on Leigh Creek Road 4786 and follow 2 miles to the trailhead.
This short trail takes a moderately easy climb before dropping into the Little North Fork Creek. Views of waterfalls are available before ending in a rainforest type gorge.
From Rexford, travel 7 miles south past the Koocanusa Bridge. Take Road 336 and follow for 1 mile to the marked trail.
The Mission Mountain Range is the gateway to the Mission Mountain Wilderness Area, a 73,877-acre paradise ideal for hiking, camping and fishing. Its diverse topography includes rugged peaks, alpine lakes and wildflower meadows. Look for the 9,280-foot McDonald Peak on the complex's east end. Along the western slope of the wilderness is 89,500 acres of Tribal Wilderness. When recreating on tribal lands, be sure to obtain and carry a tribal recreation permit.
From MT Highway 83, travel 19 miles north of Seeley Lake, turn on Kraft Creek Road and continue for 7 miles. Turn right on Forest Service Road 9576 and follow for half mile to the trailhead for Hemlock Lake Trail 607.
To access the Tribal Wilderness, take US Highway 93 north through St. Ignatius, turning east on Mission Reservoir Road. Continue 3 miles, turn right and travel 1 mile. Turn left and drive a half mile to the Mission Dam, campground and trailhead.
One of the most popular trails in the Seeley Lake Ranger District, this 5 mile round-trip route leads to Morrell Lake and Morrell Falls at the base of the Swan Mountain Range.
From the town of Seeley Lake, travel half-mile north on Highway 83. Turn right on Morrell Creek Road, which becomes Forest Service Road #477/Cottonwood Lakes Road and travel just over 1 mile. Turn left on West Morrell Road #4353 and travel about 6 miles. Turn right on Pyramid Pass Road #4381 and travel a quarter of a mile. Then turn left on Morrell Falls Road #4364. Continue for 1 mile to the Morrell Falls Trailhead and parking area.
One of the most popular hikes in Montana leads to the "M" above The University of Montana. This steep, zigzag path includes 11 switchbacks and gains 620 feet in elevation in under a mile.
The trail starts at the eastern edge of The University of Montana campus.
This trail includes an easy climb for the first half of its route, while the latter half has stepper grades.
From Troy, travel west on US Highway 2 for 10 miles. Turn onto Highway 508/Yaak Road 92 and follow to Pete Creek Road 338. Turn northwest and take Pete Creek Road 22 miles to the trailhead.
Located in a wooded canyon near Missoula and sitting at 4,100 feet, Pattee Canyon is a popular location for day hikes and mountain biking. It also has picnic sites and group sites available.
From downtown Missoula, follow Higgins Avenue south. Turn left onto Pattee Canyon Road and follow for 3 miles.
This 17-mile long trail provides moderate to difficult hiking, with exceptional views of the Flathead Valley, Cabinet Mountains and Glacier National Park.
From Columbia Falls, travel 40 miles to Big Creek Road 316.
With its major trailhead only 4 miles north of Missoula, this 61,000-acre area forms Montana's premier urban wilderness, blending wilderness and civilization. For hiking, try Boulder Lake Trail (333), Rattlesnake Main Trail (515) or Woods Gulch Trail (513).
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.
This low-difficulty trail provides beautiful views of the mountains and is ideal for viewing wildlife.
Follow Highway 93 south from Hamilton for about 12 miles. Turn south on Lake Como Road 550 and follow west. The trailhead is located by the stock loading ramp.
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. You 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, the one under the Madison Street Bridge and the third bridge just off California Street.
The trail is accessible from many points in downtown and along the river.
This 4.5 mile trail is moderately difficult.
From the Stevensville junction, travel 3.5 miles south on Highway 93. Turn west on Indian Prairie Loop. Continue west to St. Mary Road. From there continue 1 mile to the junction of McCalla Ridge Road and St. Mary's Peak Road. Travel 14 miles to the trailhead.
This all-season area has beautiful views of alpine country.
From I-90, take the Lookout Pass Exit. Go south on Road 7896 and proceed 1 mile to where the road begins to loop. Take the first road to the right, crossing the old railroad grade.
This trail is moderately difficult and stretched 5 miles across the Bitterroot National Forest.
From Hamilton, take Highway 93 south for 21 miles to West Fork Road. Turn right and continue 6 miles to the Trapper-Chaffin Road. Turn right and drive a half mile to Little Trapper junction. Keep left and continue nearly 3 miles to the trailhead.
This moderately difficult ridgeline trail accesses several high alpine lakes, as well as numerous trails that lead into Glacier National Park and other mountain ranges.
From Fortine, travel south on US Highway 93 for 25 miles. Turn on Deep Creek Road 368 and follow for 7 miles. Walk 1.5 miles to the end of the road. Take Trail 311 for 2 miles to its junction with Whitefish Divide Trail.
The Danny On Trail leaves directly from Whitefish Mountain Resort Village, where it makes its way up the slopes of Big Mountain, passing wildflowers as it continues to the summit. The trail offers beautiful views of the valley and surrounding mountains. There are four loops and routes on the trail, allowing hikers to pick their trail length, with the shortest being nearly 4 miles and the longest being just over 5.5 miles.
Whitefish Mountain Resort is located 8 miles north of Whitefish and 23 miles north of Kalispell.
12127 U.S. Highway 2 E.
13546 State Highway 37
466 Lake McDonald Loop Road, Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park
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