One of the newest additions to the Missoula area network of trails is the Barmeyer Trail on the northern flank of Mount Dean Stone. This trail climbs up to a wonderful vista that offers sweeping views of the Missoula Valley and a unique perspective of Mount Sentinel.

Mount Sentinel from the Barmeyer Trail
Unique perspective of Mount Sentinel from the Barmeyer Trail

In 2018 the City of Missoula added the Barmeyer trail and the land it sits upon to its official Open Space lands. This is the first step in what will be a trail corridor linking the south side of Missoula to the top of Mount Dean Stone. Even without the trail stretching to higher elevations, the Barmeyer Trail is a great place for a morning hike or ride.

Barmeyer Trail in Missoula, Montana
Cool on a hot day on the Barmeyer Trail

To Begin:

The Barmeyer Trail is a lollipop trail that climbs over 800′ in 1.5 miles. But the first 200′ make it seem like it will climb 2,800′ in that same distance. Keep going! I promise it becomes more gradual. After passing the initial “entry” into the trail, the path snakes through a dark, relatively lush section of forest with big fir trees and moss covering the ground. Even in the midst of summer this bottom half mile of trail stays nice and cool.

Barmeyer Trail in Missoula, MT
Early sun on the Barmeyer Trail

A few steps past the half mile mark the trail splits; left takes you up the steeper, foot traffic only, side of the loop, while right will lead you up the more gradual bike friendly side. I like going up the more gradual side of the loop since my legs are usually still warming up and and my knees aren’t at the point where steep downhill is more painful than fun.

The right side (North) of the loop switchbacks a few more times before popping out of the trees at 0.7 miles into grassy slopes and your first views of Mount Sentinel and Pattee Canyon. If it’s a hot day the second half of the climb is a great time to work on your hydration skills and beach season tan. It’s more exposed, but the views are worth it.

Barmeyer Trail in Missoula, Montana
They view when you pop out of the trees on the North Barmeyer Loop

Around 1.3 miles the trail spits you out onto a road. There is a sign directing you the last .2 miles North to the overlook. This is an out-and-back, but don’t pass it up. From this spot you can overlook the entire Missoula Valley and see the mountains of the Rattlesnake, Ninemile, and Grave Creek Sub-Range. It’s also usually much windier than the parking lot!

Rhaenna looking the wrong way

To Finish:

To complete the loop head back South from the overlook and pass the trail you came up. 10 yards past that trail is another trail coming up on your left (Continuing up the road to your right will connect to the Sousa Trail). This is the foot-traffic Barmeyer Trail that you split from below. This path is narrower and meanders through the trees, thus offering more shade for those hot days. It also tends to hold ice and snow longer in the shoulder seasons so beware!

Barmeyer Trail in Missoula, MT
Heading down the South side of the Barmeyer Loop

This trail is flanked on the East by private property so be sure to stay on the trail, but do keep an eye out because the drainage below you is a great place to spot deer and other Montana creatures!

Barmeyer Trail in Missoula, Montana
View of Mount Sentinel from the South side of the Barmeyer Loop

Details for the Barmeyer Trail:

  • Distance: 3.15 miles car-to-car
  • Elevation: 889′ of climbing
  • Water: None
  • Surface: Wide single-track
  • Ideal times: The Barmeyer Trail is open year round, but requires spikes in the winter and shoulder season. I prefer going up Barmeyer in the morning because the early sun as you pop out of the trees is magical.
  • Getting there: From downtown Missoula head South on Higgins Avenue. Turn left onto Pattee Canyon Drive when Higgins turns right (1.1 miles after the round-a-bout). Follow Pattee Canyon Drive 1.3 miles until you see the small parking lot on the right.
  • GPX data: https://www.strava.com/activities/3216755231
(this post originally appeared at boughnerblog.blogspot.com)

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