The Bitterroot Trail – from Missoula to Hamilton – provides awe-inspiring scenery of the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountain ranges. Not just a pretty view, the trail also offers access to exceptional recreation along the route – and beyond. You can use the trail as a springboard to mountain bike, road bike, hike, fish, ride horses, play in the water, and more! We’ll focus on biking and hiking options on this page, but there are many other fun things to do in and around Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley.

Hiking & Biking in Missoula

While you’re in Missoula, you can easily get around town on two wheels in this bike-friendly city. An interactive bicycle map and a printable map of Missoula can help you get around town using its extensive urban trail system and bountiful bike lanes.

The mountain biking and hiking options in and around Missoula are plentiful. Within minutes of downtown, you can easily get to a number of trailheads. The Lolo National Forest surrounds Missoula and provides quick access to mountain biking and hiking trails, many of which are located in three recreation areas: the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness, Pattee Creek Recreation Area, and Blue Mountain Recreation Area. Mountain biking enthusiasts will appreciate Mountain Biking Missoula’s trail map guide, which highlights the area’s popular mountain bike trails – including GPS maps and level of difficulty ratings.

Bitterroot Hiking & Biking Trails

The Bitterroot Valley portion of the trail spans from Lolo to Hamilton with other towns – Florence, Stevensville, Victor, Corvallis – dotted along the way. Recreation opportunities abound in the Bitterroot National Forest, which parallels the trail. You can access hiking and mountain biking routes from a number of trailheads within the Forest. For details about epic mountain bikes in the entire valley, see the Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists’ trail map directory for ride descriptions and virtual tours.

Road Biking

If you’d rather stay on pavement, the Missoula area and particularly the Bitterroot Valley are beautiful places for road biking. You can take a side trip from the Bitterroot Trail and explore the valley’s scenic rural roads. The back roads through the foothills from Victor to Hamilton are idyllic. And from Hamilton you can tackle two picturesque climbs – Skalkaho Pass (until the pavement ends) and Sleeping Child Road.

Local Recommendations

Questions about riding options? Stop in at one of the many friendly bike shops in Missoula or Bitterroot Valley to get their recommendations. Or stop in a local bookstore to buy one of these recreation guide books to help you plan your hiking and biking adventures:

  • Day Hikes Around Missoula, Montana: Including The Bitterroots And The Seeley-Swan Valley, Robert Stone
  • Best Hikes Near Missoula, Josh Mahan
  • Hiking the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Scott Steinberg
  • Hiking the Bitterroots, Mort Arkava
  • Mountain Biking Missoula, Dan Oko

Bitterroot Trail Partners

  • A special thank you to