The southern boundary of the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness (RNRAW) is four miles north of Missoula, Montana. The National Recreation Area (NRA) lies south and adjacent to the wilderness and receives heavy use, particularly in the South Zone, within about three miles of the main trailhead. Far fewer people venture into The Rattlesnake Wilderness which is in the more remote, and northern, portion of the RNRAW. There is a trail that takes off from the main trailhead into the National Recreation Area along Rattlesnake Creek to within three miles of a scenic cluster of high alpine lakes in the wilderness. The elevation varies from 3600 feet at the NRA entrance to 8620 feet on McLeod Peak.
Great little loop run or Mtn bike in the Rattlesnake. For the less fit it is a moderate to hard hike. You can get water from spring creek but I'd filter. Dry and hot on the east side in the summer. My favorite time of the year on the west side is November when it 'snows' larch needles.
K W. on Spring Gulch Trail
2 mountain lions seen just off trail today, July 6, 2016.