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Mount Sentinel

If you love outdoor photography or simply want spectacular views, you can never go wrong with a hike up Mount Sentinel. There are many excellent trails that will give you a scenic overlook of the entire valley, but two of the best are the Kim Williams Trail and the M Trail.

The Kim Williams Trail is ideal for casual nature walks or an outdoor excursion with your children. Built on the same path as a former railway, the trail hugs the Clark Fork river and takes you through the Hellgate Canyon natural area – a perfect trip for viewing wildlife, flowering plants, and other natural wonders. If you are feeling adventurous or want a more strenuous hike, you can pick up the Hellgate Canyon trail and wind your way to the top of Mount Sentinel – a 2-mile hike with roughly 1600 feet of elevation gain.

And for a real workout, by far the most popular hiking trail is a snaking uphill battle known as the M Trail. Although it is less than a mile in length, the M Trail gains over 600 feet of elevation, taking you to the first stopping point – a large concrete M and a beautiful panoramic view of The University of Montana. You can call it a day there or keep climbing another mile (and another 1000 feet of elevation gain) to the top of Mount Sentinel.

Your reward? Tired legs, burning lungs, and the most spectacular view of Missoula, nearby Mt. Jumbo, and in the southern distance, the Bitterroot Mountains. We promise, the pictures you will bring home are worth the hike.

Jim Blanks

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