1. Mission Falls

Grace Sievert

If you’re looking for the perfect intermediate hike around Missoula, this is it. A four-mile round trip, the walk goes through various types of scenery. The trailhead is a 45-minute drive north of Missoula, in a small town called St. Ignatius. The journey begins with a heavily forested area that is the closest reminder to a jungle that Montana can give. This continues for about an hour, with a slight uphill most of the time. You then come to the second half of the hike, a much steeper trail that gives amazing views of the area below. Make it to the top and you will emerge on top of a waterfall with an amazing outlook on the valley. Be sure to stay back from the edge of the falls and out of the water for danger precautions. This hike is short and fun, a great hike for a summer afternoon.

2. North Crow

Grace Sievert

The hike to North Crow is a special one. It gives everything Montana has to offer although it is short. Just a half an hour in and you’ll have reached your destination, a big beautiful waterfall and woods that seclude you from the world. North of Missoula, North Crow can be found by taking a right on Old US Highway 93, right before Pablo. The hike isn’t well known, and if you even see anyone on the trail, they are bound to be locals. The first half is flat and in a wooded area next to a creek. Follow the creek until the trail begins to gain elevation, eventually giving views of the mountains beside covered in trees. A short jaunt after that and the waterfall comes into sight. North Crow is not a hike to be missed!

3. Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

If you live in Missoula, you know about the hot springs that surround it, and one of the most popular is Jerry Johnson. This is not only because of its many pools, but also the due to the adventures little hike leading to them. The drive begins by going towards Lolo, then taking a right onto highway 12. The road goes on for about an hour and a half to two hours, ending by a large parking lot on the side of the road. After making sure everyone has the soaking essentials: towel, suit, and drinks, cross the bridge on the other side of the road to begin the quick hike. About a half hour in length, the hike goes through a wooded area and next to the Lochsaq River. Towards the end of the walk various pools can be seen by the edge of the river, but the best pools come at the end of the trail. The trail emerges into an open area with over 10 pools, perfect for a relaxing day in the beautiful wilderness. Jerry Johnson is one of the best and most popular hikes around Missoula that leads to a hot springs.

4. Highline Trail

Grace Sievert

Of course the list of the best hikes around Missoula had to include one from Glacier National Park. Regardless of if you plan to hike or not, the two and a half hour drive to one of the most famous National Parks in the country needs to be completed by everyone in Missoula. It truly is one of a kind. The Highline trail is located at the top of the Going to the Sun Road at Logan Pass. It is one of the more popular trails in Glacier National Park and there are usually many people hiking it. The trail begins with an overview of magnificent mountains in West Glacier, mainly being Heavens Peak, Mt. Cannon, and Mt. Oberlin. At the start, one side of the trail hugs the mountain, and the other side lines up with a cliff. Scared of heights or falling? Don’t worry, the cliff gets further from the trail after about 10 minutes of walking, and until then there are cables along the mountain to hold until then. The trail is straightforward, and eventually climbs up and over Haystack Pass. Haystack Pass is a great area to rest and enjoy some views before turning back.

5. The M Hike

Grace Sievert

Did you even go to Missoula if you didn’t hike the M? One of the famous landmarks in Missoula, the M can be seen even from an airplane flying in. It is located above the University of Montana, giving the freshman college students a way to find home if they don’t know where they are in the city. The parking lot for the hike is across from the University Center, and then begins the steep hike of 11 switchbacks leading to a sight showing all of Missoula. Although it is a climb, its worth it when you get to enjoy the panoramic view.

What Hike is Right for You?

Although the hikes above are all amazing, they are very different. Mission Falls and The Highline Trail are longer day hikes, while Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, The M Hike, and North Crow only take an hour or so of time. If you are a student with limited time, I suggest not missing out on the Hot Springs and of course the M Trail, which is right off campus. There is nothing like sharing a hike with fellow students, it's really part of the University of Montana college experience.