BLUE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL
Miles: 1/4 loop
Elevation gain: 50 feet (from 3,650 feet to 3,700 feet)
There's opportunity for both day and overnight trips on this trail from the base of Blue Mountain to the lookout. You can start from the trailhead on Blue Mountain Road or go up Forest Road No. 365 to points where the road intersects or passes near the trail. Remember, this trail is closed to mountain bike use.
Signs are scarce, but the route has been marked with "blazes" on trees (see illustration). Be sure to look for these blazes numerous old logging roads and skid trails crisscross Blue Mountain, and this can be a difficult trail to follow. You won't find water along the way, so take enough to last your entire trip.
Don't let these words of caution discourage you from trying this trail. It passes through some fine country with occasional views of the Missoula Valley and Bitterroot River. In fact, it's a favorite of local equestrians. Backcountry Horsemen of Missoula sponsors an annual trail ride and clearing to help with maintenance. This group also helped develop the trail.
Hikers often take a one-way trip up or down the trail by arranging a shuttle.
You can camp and build a campfire west of Forest Road No. 365 above the second gate on Road No. 365. (See map.)
The trailhead (also called the "horse-loading facility") is on Blue Mountain Road, just 1 mile north of its intersection with Highway 93 South.
CLICK ON THE MAP FOR A LARGER IMAGE