10 Top-Rated Hiking Trails And Campgrounds Near Missoula (2023)
Missoula is big on Outdoor recreation, especially, Camping and Hiking. Even though it is a metropolitan and a university city, it inspires individuals to step out and enjoy in the wild. The city of Missoula is a part of western Montana, a region blessed with numerous National Forest and true wilderness. From the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area to Lolo National Forest and the Rocky Mountain peaks, hiking and camping options here are diverse and endless.
Exploring Missoula is a famous affair regardless of the seasons. However, the best time arrives when the air cools down, the sun lowers its heat, and leaves begin their vibrant transition. Hikers don’t have to worry about shades and heat strokes. Instead, hiking trails here always become enjoyable no matter how strenuous the paths are. And when you look around from these hiking trails, you will come across several tenting and RVing spaces to rest for the night. So, why waste time thinking?
10 Top-Rated Hiking Trails And Campgrounds Near Missoula
Find yourself the best hiking trails and campgrounds in and around Missoula. For cutting down the confusion, have a look down below:
1. Rest for the Night at the Jim & Mary’s RV Park
Jim & Mary’s is an RV-only Park on Highway 93, 10 miles from the northwest of downtown Missoula. It is a large and spacious park with several RVing spots, all offering 30 amp and 50-amp electricity hook-ups. Unlike the forested sites, the Jim & Mary’s RV Park has a lively atmosphere with greenery, flower beds, ornamental decors, gazebo, and small huts. Throughout the summer night, the park gets vibrant with music social events along with fun and festivities. There are water connections and sewer drops for RVs, whereas, for individuals, amenities like free Wi-Fi are available. The park is popular in its proximity to Flathead Lake and West Glacier, as it comes right in the route. Though regardless of the popularity, RVing here is affordable.
2. Camp at the Big Larch Campground or the Seeley Lake Campground
Big Larch Campground is a popular camping space on the eastern shores of Seeley Lake. It is just an hour north of Missoula and is a popular summer camping space. It has around 48 camping sites, all available on a first-come, first-serve basis. It caters to both tenting enthusiasts and RV owners, though without electric hook-ups. Due to their proximity to the lake, the sites fill up fast; thus, to reserve your space, consider reaching by the afternoon. Though if you fail to grab a spot at Big Larch, navigate to the west of the shoreline and reach River Point and Seeley Lake Campgrounds. Every sight here includes amenities like fire rings, picnic tables, vault toilets, etc. Upon resting on any of these camping spaces, individuals can access Seeley Lake for boating and swimming. It is a popular resting space for Glacier National Park visitors.
3. Camp at the Beavertail Hill State Park
Thirty minutes east of Missoula, the Beavertail Hill State Park sits alongside the Clark Fork River. It is a family-friendly space ideal for tenting, camping, and small RVs. The campsite is located on the Old Milwaukee Railroad line across the Clark Fork River. There are 24 campsites, all available on a first-come, first-serve basis. RVs can only accommodate the ones with 28 feet in length and no more. Or if not, there are two Sioux-style tipis which one can rent for an overnight stay. Some of the popular amenities of the site include vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. Beavertail Hill campground has a number of hiking trails wandering through scenic parts of nature. Or visitors can also access a swimming beach close by for both swimming and boating both.
4. Camp and fly fish at the Harry’s Flat Campground
Harry’s Flat Campground is about an hour’s drive away east on Interstate-90 from Missoula. It is another first-come, first-serve campground with multiple sites on the place. However, the campground is basic, and resources no more than vault toilets are found here. The ones who fail to find a spot here can en route back to the Dalles Campground or Norton Campground similarly. While the former has 10 camping sites, the latter has 13 of them. Even though Harry’s Flat Campground and its nearby ones are primitive, they are extremely popular for fly fishing opportunities. Anglers from Missoula and across Montana visit here for fly fishing fun.
5. Soak and relax at the Lolo Hot Springs Campground
The top-rated campground near Missoula, the Lolo Hot Springs Campground, is a must-visit. It is just 45 minutes south of Missoula city and is popular due to the proximity to hot springs. The campground has 30 tenting sites and 50 RVing sites, along with a few heated cabins. Some of the amenities here include electric hook-ups, heated bathrooms and showers, water, free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, and more. Visitors staying here can access the Hot Springs or navigate to the restaurant nearby. This in-house restaurant hosts Saturday night live music and other fun activities throughout the summer. However, in case you want to spend some time more in nature, then access the nearby Lee Creek Campground. It is just 2 miles south and connects more with secluded and tranquillity of nature.
6. Camp at the Square Dance Center & Campground
Twenty minutes from downtown Missoula, the Square Dance Center & Campground is a unique and fun place to live overnight. The campground is available for camping, tenting, and RVing. The entire area is acres of pine and fir forest and absolutely stunning scenery throughout and around the campground. Campers can go hiking, nature walking and fishing around. Even a small Lolo Creek running adds to its beauty and popularity. Besides the scenery, the campground is also popular for its AC dance floor and Maplewood dance floor. Every night, there organizes dancing programs and workshops attracting dancers from Montana and across. There is even a stimulating Wiffle Ball course at the site for added fun.
Missoula’s Hiking Trails
7. Explore the Mount Sentinel “M” Hike
Mount Sentinel “M” Hike is the most popular hiking trail within the boundaries of Missoula. The trailhead is near Washington-Grizzly Stadium from the University of Missoula. Further, it goes all the way 0.75-miles long to a giant concrete M in Mount Sentinel. The trail is short, with a zig-zag pathway gaining an elevation of 620 feet. However, the route is a challenge for legs, and beginners might feel this hike is a little strenuous. However, upon reaching the concrete ‘M’ hikers can grab rewarding views of Ch-Paa-Qn, Lolo Peak, Mount Jumbo. It is also a great spot for observing sunset in Missoula. Mount Sentinel has other trails as well, leading all the way to its summit. The route isn’t long but strenuous and challenging for feet.
8. Find peace and tranquillity at Rattlesnake Corridor Trail
The Rattlesnake Corridor Trail is close, then 15 minutes from the city borders of Missoula. The Corridor features nearly 70 miles of hiking trails which commonly are flat and wide. Amongst the locals and visitors in Missoula, it is a popular and often used trail where you can find hikers and cyclers of all types. The central pathway here is the Main Corridor Trail which further mends into the Rattlesnake Wilderness. This also makes for a challenging day excursion or backpacking trip into the wilderness. Hikers of all fitness levels can use the region. Though it is an easy-to-use trail system, longer hikes might cause strain on your foot muscles.
9. Hike the North Hills or Waterworks Trail for Views
For a quick hike in Missoula, access the North Hills Trail north of downtown. It is basically an elevated part of Missoula city on its northern backdrop side. For reaching up to the vantage point, hikers can choose from different trails, including one on Greenough Drive and the other from the Orange Street exit. The route here is easier and less challenging than other trails within the boundaries of the city. The entire route and the ultimate vantage point offer an incredible and undisputed view of the city and other regions around. It is also a popular region for spotting airplanes and sunset views.
10. Explore the Blue Mountain National Recreation Trail
The Blue Mountain National Recreation Trail is towards the southern edge of Missoula, nearly 15 to 20 minutes from the city. This recreational area offers 40 miles of hiking trails encompassing across and over the mountain. Hikers can choose the eight-mile route and hike all the way to the summit of Blue Mountain, gaining an elevation of 3000 feet. The route through is challenging and takes a day (back and forth); hiking here is worth it. From and below the summit, the views of Missoula Valley are more appealing than anywhere else around. Or, for shorter hikes, one can choose trails, including the trail from Blue Mountain Road, one from Vista Point Loop, or the Maclay Flat Nature Trail.