Mount Sentinel "M" Trail is a 3.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Missoula, Montana that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
The "M" on the west face of Mount Sentinel has been a Missoula landmark since 1908, when Forestry Club members forged a zigzag trail up the mountain and students carried up stones to shape the symbol of the University of Montana. A hike to the "M" is a favorite Missoula outing for people of all ages. After just a few minutes on the trail, you begin to get a birds'-eye view of the University of Montana. As you gain elevation, the view expands to include all of Missoula, the valley, the Clark Fork River and distant mountains. While the trail is less than a mile long, the hike can be quite strenuous, depending on how quickly you cover this distance. You'll climb a steep, zigzag path with 11 switchbacks and gain 620 feet in elevation. Many local athletes and fitness buffs run the "M" trail as a regular part of their regimen. Most people make the "M" their final destination, but you can continue to climb for about another mile on one of two routes to the top of Mount Sentinel. The view from the top of the mountain is even more exquisite. To the north, across Hellgate Canyon, you'll see Mount Jumbo and the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness. Look for the water lines etched into the slopes of Mount Jumbo by the waters of Glacial Lake Missoula. To the south, you can see the Bitterroot Mountains. From the top of Sentinel, you can retrace your steps to the base of the mountain or follow Crazy Canyon Trail into Pattee Canyon. Hikers and equestrians can also follow the Hellgate Canyon Trail linking Crazy Canyon Trail with the Kim Williams Trail.
It's always a great place to see the whole valley!
I do a mix of hiking and trail running on "the M." Basically, it's a trail of switchbacks. It's do-able for most people, as there are benches for rest every few switchbacks. You could take your time and just enjoy the views of Missoula (which are spectacular!), or hike faster/run it for more intense cardio exercise.
Steep hike but gives you a great view over Missoula and the mountains surrounding. Saw a couple deer grazing by the trail on the way up. Fast hike that starts on University of Montana's campus.
doesn't take as long as you think it would. very steep in certain areas n can be a killer work out but there are benches at every other corner to stop and take a few breaths. lots of friendly people
Tough, quick hike. Great sunset views of Missoula Valley. Will be doing it again soon.
Tough but short hike! Has 13 switchbacks, the first being the hardest in my opinion, but don't quit on it.... the view at the top is awesome!
Get winded fast.
Beautiful view of Missoula especially at night even just from the M. To the summit, there are two main paths from the M that get you up there one is easier but the path is longer and it does come across a cool yet short cave. This Map of the trail is a little out dated when it comes to hiking to the summit since there has been trail restoration and land preservation efforts, but if you are not sure just ask somebody around you they are all pretty nice!
A beautiful and challenging trail, especially during the winter months. I remember exerting much more effort than was necessary in order to avoid the patches of ice and snow mixed with mud.
The view is worth it from the 'M' alone. Pushing yourself to the top of Mt. Sentinel results in astonishingly gorgeous views. Well worth the added effort.