Snowshoeing is the most basic and yet one of the most rewarding ways to enjoy the snow covered canopies and winter landscape of Missoula's surrounding mountains.
- Bound your way through untracked powder, snow covered forest canopies and past frozen rivers.
- Hire a guide to take you on a new trail.
- If you can walk, you can snowshoe, it's as easy as that.
- Missoula's easy access to multiple trails are perfect for a snowshoe hike anytime of the day.
Snowshoeing is the easiest way to explore the snow covered mountains and valleys around Missoula. It requires little gear, just the shoes and its simple, if you can walk, you can snowshoe. A favorite past time for almost all winter adventurers.
Most summer hiking trails double as snowshoe areas in the winter, so bound your way under snowy canopies and along frozen river beds. If you are quite enough, you may stumble across some elk or deer.
Where to Go Snowshoeing
Missoula is surrounded by mountains that are filled with miles of trails. Quick and easy access makes Missoula a hub of snowshoe activity. Snowshoers and cross country skiers generally share the same recreation areas, so avoid bounding across established cross country trails.
- Rattlesnake Wilderness and Recreation Area
Just four miles from downtown Missoula, the Rattlesnake offers miles of snowshoeing opportunities. There is an abundance of short trails here, so check out the map at the trailhead and pick a route that fits your fitness level and time frame. From Missoula take Van Buren east and drive 4.5 miles up Rattlesnake Dr to the main trailhead.
- Blue Mountain Recreation Area
Bound your way up to Deadman Point for great vistas of the Bitterroot Mountains and Missoula Valley. A little over five and a half miles, this snowshoe hike won't disappoint. Just two miles south of town, Blue Mountain is easy to access. Take Hwy 93 south to Blue Mountain Road. The trailhead is one mile up the road.
- Pattee Canyon Recreation Area
Snowshoe your way across Crazy Canyon Trail to the summit of Mt. Sentinel for a bird's eye view of the snow covered valley below. Continue back along the same route or to mix it up, head down the “M” Trail. From Missoula, take S Higgins Ave east to Pattee Canyon Road/County Road 533. The trailhead is 3.1 miles up the road on the left.
- Bitterroot Mountains
Head down Hwy 93 south and pick a canyon. The Bitterroot Mountains are full of hiking trails that double as snowshoe trails in the winter. Blodgett Canyon is gorgeous in the winter and a hot spot for ice climbers. Further down the road you will find access to Kootenai Canyon which also offers a beautiful trail into the glacially formed Bitterroots.
- Lolo Pass
Snowshoe your way across state-lines. Lolo Pass sits along the border of Montana and Idaho at 6,000 to 7,000 ft. An eight mile loop awaits your exploration. From Missoula, head south on Hwy 93. Turn right on Hwy 12 and take this until you reach the pass.
- Garnet Ghost Town
This old mining town has been well preserved and now offers a look into the past. In the winter, the road closes so hop on your sled and bring your snowshoes. Spend the day snowshoeing around the old town and into the surrounding woods. Spend the night in one of the two rental cabins. From Missoula, take I-90 east to Hwy 200 east. Take a right on Garnet Range Road. This takes you to the scenic byway which lead to the Garnet Ghost Town.
If you don't have your own snowshoes, don't worry, this popular item can be rented at any of the outdoor gear stores found throughout Missoula. Prices shouldn't vary too much, but quality may, so make sure you are comfortable with the product you rent. Some people like to rent polls as well because they can aid in balance.