MOUNT SENTINEL HELLGATE CANYON TRAIL
Elevation gain: 1,600 feet (from 3,200 to 4,800 feet)
This route on the north face of Mount Sentinel offers hiking opportunities on the periphery of Missoula. The trail links the Kim Williams Nature Trail, in Hellgate Canyon, with Crazy Canyon Trail, which extends from Pattee Canyon to the top of Mount Sentinel.
Using this trail, you can take a Hellgate Canyon-Mount Sentinel loop hike. The Hellgate Trail isn't as steep as the "M" trail and routes above the "M," so you might prefer to start your hike on the Kim Williams Nature Trail.
About one mile down the Kim Williams Trail, watch for a narrow path that heads off to the right (south). Follow this well-worn path for about three-quarters of a mile until you encounter tread. A section of the trail takes you the rest of the distance up the mountain to the connection with Crazy Canyon Road.
You'll pass through the area burned by the 1985 Hellgate Canyon fire and have some great views of the Clark Fork River through Hellgate Canyon, the East Missoula area, Missoula and the Rattlesnake.
From the connection with Crazy Canyon Road, it's a steep quarter-mile climb to the top of Sentinel and a 1.5-mile hike down the west face of the mountain to the "M" trailhead.
Equestrians can access the Hellgate Trail from the Kim Williams Trail or from the Crazy Canyon trailhead in Pattee Canyon. This trailhead has ample parking and turn-around room for horse trailers. It's a 2.6-mile ride or hike up Crazy Canyon Trail to the intersection with the Hellgate Trail.
Bicyclists should note that the Hellgate Canyon Trail, like other routes on the west face of Sentinel, is not open to bicycles.