Rattlesnake Trail is a 33.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Missoula, Montana that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length33.9 miElevation gain2,818 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashBackpackingCampingHikingHorseback ridingMountain bikingSnowshoeingForestRiverViewsWildlifeRocky
Description
Waypoints (0)
Getting There

Close to Missoula, this trail is popular for day hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking. The trail was an old logging road so it is wide, has a relatively gentle grade for the first 9 miles, and roughly parallels Rattlesnake Creek. From the main trail, there are many side trails available. The main trail winds through open ground, dry forested areas, and progresses into western larch and Engelmann spruce farther up the drainage. Beaver dams can often be seen in Rattlesnake Creek about 5 miles up from trailhead. This trail connects to many other trails such as the "Wallman Trail" (see map) and could be made into loops. (from Forest Service website)

From Missoula, at the junction of Van Buren Street and Interstate 90, take Van Buren north (Rattlesnake Dr.) about four miles north to the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area trailhead. Turn left off Sawmill Gulch Road to get to the ample parking area. Information board with maps and restrooms are available.

Weather
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Reviews (194)
Photos (159)
Activities (177)
Completed (404)
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Michael Branch
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 6, 2021
Hiking

There was lots of poop and ice on the trail. People should really pick up after their elk and wolves. also got my foot stuck in a frozen post hole. Would not recommend, you'd be better off in CA.

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Mary Anderson
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RunningGreat!Snow

I went about 2.5 miles up the main corridor. It wasn't very muddy, the spots that are more in the sun are surprisingly dry. There were some spots of ice in shadier places but relatively dry for this time of year. For grad school, I wrote a short eBook about hiking in Missoula with your dogs. Find it on Gumroad for free with the code "25free" https://gumroad.com/l/YFcTD

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Cathy Williams
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Walking

The trail is mostly dry at least the mile I did this morning. I was surprised, it is usually packed, not so on this beautiful Spring morning. Great for kids and people like me with a recent knee surgery. Can’t wait to explore more of the trail.

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Gerik Manger
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Cross-country skiing

Good conditions beautiful ski

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Cameron Wanke
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Hiking
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Russell Bilodeau
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Hiking
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Mike Tucker
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Hiking

Great snowy hike! I snowshoed up the Curry gulch trail which turnout to be a more aggressive hike up in the snow.

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Joshua Valerius
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Hiking
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Sherry McCune
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Hiking

Love love love this trail! So many offshoots—I explore different ones each time I go.

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Bhaskar Thota
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RunningGreat!
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Mark Shenker
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Hiking

The path is easy and very pleasant. We went 11 miles along the trail, about four miles short of the wilderness boundary. Despite it being Saturday, once we were a couple of miles out from the trailhead, there were only a few bikers and one other couple hiking. At one point we heard a loud, distinct growl from just by the trail but did not see anything. On the return journey, at that same place, we saw a pile of fresh mountain lion scat.

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Febin Varghese
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
HikingNo shade

My first solo hike in the US! It’s a beautiful trail that follows the river. Lots of mountain bikers on the trail - I was the only person walking. Not much wildlife around, but did run into a baby snake sunbathing on the trail! Overall, a lovely hike!

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Sherry McCune
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Hiking

I LOVE THIS TRAIL!!! Many trail options to try (I recorded my path within this app so I wouldn’t get lost). Dogs must be leashed the first 1.7 miles, but may be off-led after that. Be sure your pup has good recall, as there are families with children, horses, bicyclists, and plenty other dogs there. The one restroom I saw on trail was closed due to Covid. I read another review that listed very little shade available. I did not find that to be the case, and was there from around 10:00am till 12:30pm. The trails I took did not have a lot of cumulative elevation, just gentle ups and downs. The paths were either gravel, larger rock, or dirt. Rattlesnake creek was beautifully clear, shallow and running a very swift current. Very enjoyable, and I will definitely be back.

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Cathy Williams
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HikingBugsNo shade

Only went a short way because it was a hot afternoon and mostly in the sun. There were reports of bear sightings and we didn’t have our bear spray

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Josiah Norton
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Muddy

My wife and I just backpacked into RNRAW via this trail, up to Little Lake/Sanders Lake. The trail is well maintained, but there are many creeks and low spots that will get your feet wet without some careful navigating and good footwear...and probably even with. This is especially true in the last 4 miles or so. The grade is pretty easy. We made it 17 miles on the first day--at the expense of our feet, but otherwise it was a fairly easy hike, even with a 60lb pack. We saw nobody else on foot after mile 8 (a large bridge) and only a handful of mountain bikers. The trail leaves the creek for the most part after mile 8, as you get higher into the canyon. Gorgeous hike, overall, and waterfalls/rushing water abound.

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Tony Montoya
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Mountain bikingFloodedMuddyRocky

Beautiful. Want to go further next time. Easy trail so far.

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Phill Guay
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Mountain biking

A beautiful dry day up the rattlesnake

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Alvena Fortier
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Hiking

Rattle snake- over the bridge on horse trail very short loop.

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Josef Pifer
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HikingIcySnow
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Jackson McKee
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HikingFloodedIcyMuddySnow
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Phill Guay
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 27, 2020
Hiking

A pleasant early Spring hike. The main trail is mostly dry with a few spots of crusty ice and snow. The side trails are mostly snow and ice but again mostly crusty not icy

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Josef Pifer
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HikingIcyMuddySnow
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