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Trail Well Traveled – 3/9

Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!

Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give you some helpful details and tips to get on your way!

This weekend, Craig celebrates the sunshine and warm-ing weather with a shot at a local hike listed on the association’s website as “OK” for spring.

North Loop Trail

A sparsely used hike with a great blend of prairie-land and forest, this trail is part of Missoula’s open space network. It’s also closed six months of the year for elk wintering, but when open it’s wide gravel passageway is perfect not only for hiking but for biking and three-wheel strollering as well!

Roundtrip: 4.5 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Directions: From Missoula’s Van Buren Street Exit, head north up Rattlesnake Drive 2.2 miles and then turn on Lincoln Hills Drive. Head up the hill another 1.3 miles – when the paved road turns to gravel, you’ll see a parking lot with room for about 10 cars. Note: There is no outhouse or water available at the trailhead.

What to expect: From the parking area, walk west 50 yards past the “No Outlet” sign. You will see a private electric gate here. Walk around the gate and up the gravel road 100 yards to a junction with a less-improved road on your left. Take the left road and hike under the power lines.

For a short portion of the beginning of this hike you are in prairie habitat.  At 0.5 miles you enter the woods, which are dominated by Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir. The understory is dominated by Ninebark and Snowberry bushes. After a short jaunt through the shady woods, you enter prairie again and switchback up the mountain for about 1 mile. Stop to enjoy the great views of the Rattlesnake Valley.

Miles 2-3 are back in the woods again where it is shady and cool and the trail flattens out. From here you can see East Missoula.

At 4 miles the trail joins another road/trail. Turn right toward the power lines to finish the loop through prairie. Hike underneath the power lines then make a left back to the electric gate.

Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:50 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!

Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!

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